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BARCELONA

Piqué blames pre-season for Barcelona's slow start

"The pre-season did not help at all for a good start in LaLiga. There was a lot of travel and little training," the Barça defender said.

Pique blames pre-season for Barcelona's slow start

Gerard Piqué blamed Barcelona's pre-season fixtures for their slow start to the campaign after a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Tuesday.

Villarreal win eases the pressure on Valverde

Barca eased the pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde with their victory at Camp Nou, moving onto 10 points from six LaLiga games.

While not wanting to make excuses, Pique felt Barcelona's pre-season – the LaLiga giants travelled to Japan and the United States – has impacted their start to the campaign.

Lionel Messi made his first start of the season after recovering from a calf injury, only to come off at half-time due to an adductor problem.

"The pre-season did not help at all for a good start in LaLiga. There was a lot of travel and little training," the Barça defender said.

"Many of us notice it and we aren't in sync yet, not only Messi, but we must continue because we are forced to win; it is a setback. 

"Look now what has happened to Messi, but there are no excuses, in the team there are qualified people to replace him and move on, although we hope he will be out as short a time as possible.

"There are quite a few players who ar not in sync because it is what it is. I do not know the severity of his [Messi's] injury and I hope it is as little as possible.

"There are no excuses. Although it is the best there are no excuses in Barcelona, although the pre-season was not the best."

Griezmann and Arthur goals seal win

Goals from Antoine Griezmann and Arthur helped Barca past Villarreal, who pulled one back through Santi Cazorla.

Piqué said the three points were vital for Valverde's team as they sit a point behind league leaders Granada.

"It was important to win to stay in touch with the top teams. With both goals and Leo's injury, the team has pulled it back a bit," he said.

"They have advanced the lines and pushed us back. In the second half, it was difficult."

Barcelona make the trip to Getafe in their next outing on Saturday.