Gerard Pique predicted that there will be big turns in LaLiga’s title race after Barcelona beat Valencia 3-2 to increase the pressure on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona’s defensive opponent said there is a determination within Ronald Koeman’s team to secure a league and cup double after already securing the Copa del Rey title.
Pique believes that would be an important statement from the current set of players, but it will require a big effort from Barcelona, who will meet the leaders Atletico at the Camp Nou next Saturday.
Atletico have a two-point advantage over Barcelona going into that game, while Real Madrid are also two points back from their city rivals. Sevilla also hold on to the hope of fighting their way past the big three to only get their second Spanish league title. Sevilla and Madrid meet next Sunday.
“We hope to be leaders after the next matchday, but even though we are leaders, I will not put my hand in the fire that whoever comes out as a leader wins LaLiga,” Pique told Movistar Plus.
He added: “It’s not in our hands, but I think if we win the four matches that are left, we have a lot of chances to win LaLiga. It would be a shame if, after the efforts we made in the second half of the season, we do not end up fighting for LaLiga until the end. ”
Lionel Messi’s double strike led his move to 28 goals in LaLiga this season, and that came despite his lack of a penalty kick as Barcelona were 1-0 behind, as he did in the home game against Valencia in December.
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As in the first match, Messi improved by finding the net just seconds after failing from the spot.
While Barcelona could only draw 2-2 at the Camp Nou, Messi’s equalizer in this Mestalla clash was the queue for a host of goals for Blaugrana, with Antoine Griezmann bidding them ahead. Messi curled a fantastic free kick from the right post to make it 3-1 before Carlos Soler hit a brilliant consolation for Valencia.
Messi’s second goal was the 50th direct free kick he has scored in his Barcelona career, with 39 of them coming in the LaLiga, five in the Champions League, three in the Copa del Rey, two in the UEFA Super Cup and one in the Supercopa de Spain.
The penalty miss, meanwhile, signaled for the first time that Messi missed consecutive spot-kicks to Barcelona in all competitions after failing to convert against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in the past.
Pique acknowledged that Barcelona “had to suffer a bit” after Soler’s strike increased the pressure in the last minutes.
Pique added: “We have shown ourselves and our fans that we want this league title. Winning the Copa was a first step, but we now want LaLiga. That would be a big message for this season and next season. ”