Gerard Pique does not have the sort of personality that makes admitting defeat an easy proposition.
The longtime Barcelona center back is raging after his side was beaten 5-1 over two legs by rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.
[ MORE: Barca releases statement on terror attacks ]
And for the first time in his life, he thinks Barca is a step behind its El Clasico enemies. From The Telegraph:
“This is a long process and there is room for improvement but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid,” Piqué said. “We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forwards.”
Barcelona looked very poor in the second leg of the Super Cup, though the club did hammer the woodwork on multiple occasions. Real is the best team in the world, which makes being its rival a real hassle.
In fact, both clubs have been 1-2 in the world for some time, which has to make it extra perplexing when you’re No. 2 to only the club you despise more than any other.
FC Barcelona found tragedy at home on Thursday when a terrorist plot unfolded in Las Ramblas, killing 13 and injuring more than 100.
Las Ramblas is just a 20-minute ride from the Camp Nou, and the Catalan club hosts Real Betis on Sunday.
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A terrorist-driven rental van was driven at 50 mph through a crowded plaza. As of post time, two men had been arrested but the driver remained on the loose.
Saying it was sickened by the attack, FCB announced it will fly flags at half-mast, wear black arm bands during the match and hold a minute’s silence.
Here’s the full statement:
FC Barcelona wants to express its profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, la Rambla de Barcelona. The Club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors.
As a mark of respect, the flags will fly at half-mast at the Club’s facilities and the players from both teams will wear black armbands in all the Club’s matches this weekend.
On Sunday, before the 2017/18 La Liga opener against Betis, the Camp Nou will hold a minutes silence in recognition and memory of the victims.
The hits just keep on coming for Barcelona, the tiny, scrappy Spanish club that just can’t catch a break.
[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]
In the last two weeks alone, the Blaugrana have lost Neymar, spent $47 million to sign Paulinho, failed to land a single one of their reported major transfer targets, and been embarrassed by Real Madrid (of all clubs) in the Supercopa de España.
One of the few remaining saving graces was the Lionel Messi-Luis Suarez partnership — two-thirds of the historically great MSN trio — which remained in place following Neymar’s departure. That won’t be the case for the next month, at least, after Suarez suffered an injury to his right knee in the second leg of the Supercopa on Wednesday.
[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]
The Uruguayan Football Association announced on Thursday that Suarez will be sidelined for four to five weeks and miss for a pair of hugely important World Cup qualifiers against Argentina (Aug. 31) and Paraguay (Sept. 5). Uruguay currently sit third in CONMEBOL’s marathon 10-team qualification round, one point clear of Chile in fourth (automatic qualification) and Argentina in fifth (qualification playoff, versus Oceania).
As for Barca, Suarez’s injury means not only will the club be without arguably the world’s best striker of the last five years, but given the desperate situation they now find themselves in, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund should be expected to demand an additional $5 million or $10 million to land Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, respectively.
Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.
[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]
Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:
“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”
The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.
Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.
[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]
But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.
Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”
Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.
Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.