Piqué: "That was the worst Real Madrid I've ever faced"
Barcelona suffered their first LaLiga defeat to Real Madrid in almost four years but centre-back Gerard Piqué was unimpressed by their Zidane's team.
Gerard Piqué says he expected more from Sunday's opponents Real Madrid, whose first half display he described as the worst he has ever experienced in El Clásico. Barcelona went on to lose the match 2-0 with late goals from Vinicius and Mariano Díaz at Santiago Bernabéu - the victory enabled Zidane's team to leapfrog Barça and settle into top spot in LaLiga.
Piqué deflection in Vinicius' opener
Piqué got a touch on Vinicius' opener but was unable to divert it away from his own net and he admitted his side's second-half display against their bitter rivals was not good enough. But he also fired a broadside at Zidane's men, saying Barcelona missed an opportunity to hurt them during an erratic opening 45 minutes.
"Real Madrid in the first half was the worst Madrid I've faced at the Bernabéu," Piqué told reporters afterwards. "We missed a chance to hurt them. We have to play better than we did in the second half, though. We lost balls and they grew in confidence. The feeling they [Madrid] transmitted was the worst, and I don't say it as a criticism, I've seen. We all have problems in our clubs. But I have the feeling that it's an important missed opportunity. We are not at our best either, I say we lost the opportunity to move away in the table. We had full control of the game. In the second half, we let them grow by losing the ball and then they scored; then a second one. It is a missed opportunity. In the first half, if we had taken advantage of several chances, we would have had the edge over them on the scoreboard."
Real Sociedad next up for Barcelona
The defeat left Barcelona a point behind Madrid with 12 LaLiga matches left to play, and Piqué said his side's first Clásico league defeat since April 2016 was a painful one to swallow. He called for the team to raise their game going into the final weeks of the season in order to stay in the title race, and said the return to Camp Nou for their forthcoming clash with Real Sociedad would be a welcome one.
"We have been dealt a blow but we're not sunk," Piqué continued. "There is room for improvement, and we have enough to win LaLiga if we do things well until the end. But we have to do them well. Whenever you lose here, you get hurt because of the importance of the game and the points. If we won, it would have been an important step. We have to focus on improving, especially in the second half. Now games come at home, where we are more solvent. We will aim to win, game by game, and hope they [Madrid] slip up."
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