Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has provided his backing to teammate Philippe Coutinho, on the back of the Brazilian’s latest disappointing showing.
Barcelona 3-1 Rayo
Barca welcomed Rayo Vallecano to the Camp Nou last night, for a La Liga clash.
Ernesto Valverde’s men headed into proceedings having had their lead atop the Spanish top-fight cut to just 4 points earlier in the day, after Atletico Madrid put Leganes to the sword by a goal to nil.
The Blaugrana, though, took another step towards retaining their domestic crown, courtesy of a hard-fought 3-1 victory.
Rayo actually took the lead in Catalunya, when an individual piece of brilliance from Raul De Tomas saw the Real Madrid loanee pick out the bottom corner of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal from the edge of the box.
Barcelona pulled level shortly before half-time, though, as Gerard Pique got on the end of Lionel Messi’s pinpoint free-kick to nod home.
And Messi turned scorer 5 minutes after the interval, slotting home confidently from the penalty-spot.
Luis Suarez then went on to wrap up the 3 points for the hosts in the 80th-minute, finishing off a typically-sumptuous free-flowing Blaugrana counter-attack.
| GOAL! |
From one end to the other; that is vintage Barcelona 🍷
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) March 9, 2019
On an otherwise positive night for the Catalan giants, however, one source of concern proved the performance of Philippe Coutinho.
Brazilian attacker Coutinho, who made the move to Catalunya from Liverpool in January of the last year, looked largely lost on the left of Barca’s front-3, once again struggling to rediscover his brilliant best.
And some sections of the Blaugrana faithful made their frustrations with Coutinho very much clear upon the 26-year-old being substituted 10 minutes from time, as jeers rung around the Camp Nou. (To be clear, large sections of supporters also applauded the South American).
As such, amid mounting concerns that Coutinho may not possess what it takes to succeed at Barcelona, Gerard Pique was last night questioned on the criticism being aimed in the direction of his Blaugrana teammate.
The Spanish stopper, though, urged Coutinho to ‘accept the reaction’ of the Barca faithful, explaining:
‘Obviously, he cost a lot and that means there are higher expectations surrounding his performances. It is what it is. You have to accept the reaction of the fans because at the end of the day they’re our supporters. You have to respect [their opinion].’
Pique was also keen to provide his backing to his gifted teammate, continuing:
‘We — his teammates and people at the club — have to give him all the support in the world. We need him at his best in the final stage of the season and I’m sure he will be.’
Quotes via ESPN