Gerard Pique insists Barcelona are not worried by slow La Liga start

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Gerard Pique said there was no cause for concern as Barcelona’s stuttering start to the season continued with a 2-2 draw at promoted Osasuna.

Barcelona, who were again without injured attacking pair Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, have taken only four points from their first three games.

The Spanish champions have yet to win away this season, with the Osasuna draw following the 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on the opening weekend.

“We are not worried,” central defender Pique was quoted as saying by Marca after the game in Pamplona.

“It is not the desired start, but we know that this (season) is very long.

“The important thing is to arrive in March or April with options to win the league.

“We would have liked to be with nine of nine (points), but we are having more difficulties than expected.”

Ansu Fati, the 16-year-old who became the youngest scorer in Barcelona history, and Arthur both hit their first goals for the club as the Blaugrana overturned a half-time deficit.

But Pique was at the centre of the game’s defining moment nine minutes from time when he handled in the area.

Roberto Torres drove home from the spot, his second of the game, to protect Osasuna’s unbeaten start to the season.

“I hit it with my hand,” Pique said. “But we always have meetings before the start of the season, and they talk about the distance between the ball.

“It doesn’t give me time (to get out of the way) and I’m jumping naturally.

“I would like that the referees will try to do it. For me, it is not a penalty.”

Barcelona return to action after the international break with a home game against Valencia on September 14.

Ernesto Valverde’s side then start their Champions League campaign three days later away to Borussia Dortmund.

“I do not say that there are nerves, but since the end of last season there are different opinions regarding what the club is,” Pique said.

“It is true that the last two seasons did not go well in the Champions League but we will not burn everything.

“There are two options, go for or go against and the best thing for the team is for everyone to go in the same direction.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Carles Perez and Arthur earn 8s for saving Barcelona at Osasuna, but Gerard Pique gets a 5

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Carles Perez

Champions Barcelona dropped points for the second time in three La Liga games after they were held 2-2 by newly promoted Osasuna and Pamplona.

Roberto Torres opened and closed the scoring with an incredible volley and a calmly taken penalty. Substitutes Ansu Fati and Arthur scored in-between to ensure the Catalans took something from the game despite staging a poor display.

How did the players perform individually? We take a look.

Marc Andre ter-Stegen – Not much he could have done with the first goal, made some good saves in the second half. 6

Nelson Semedo – Awful performance, out of position during Osasuna’s goal and rightly taken off at half-time. 4

Gerard Pique – Endured some nervy moments at the face of Osasuna’s press, conceded an unnecessary penalty in the death and cost his team two points. 5

Clement Lenglet – Average performance, had a tough time dealing with Brandon but displayed an improved second-half performance. 5

Jordi Alba – Bearer of the primary blame for the first goal Barcelona conceded. Caught out of position several times, failed to produce in attack. 4

Sergio Busquets – Sharp performance including crucial interceptions and some very efficient pressing, started the move for Barcelona’s second goal. 7

Frenkie de Jong – Never seemed to adapt to the left-interior role and gave the ball away often. Followed it with improved second-half performance on the right. 5

Sergi Roberto – Lifeless performance in the first half in the heart of midfield, average in the second half at right-back. 5

Carles Perez – Best player on the pitch, great movements, incredible performance strengthened further with two assists, one of which was an inch-perfect cross. Scuffed a simple chance in the death, burying which could have earned him a statue. 8

Antoine Griezmann – Hardly involved in the first and an improved second half, stayed in the shadows of the La Masia kids nevertheless. 6

Rafinha – Another player who failed to turn up in the first half but had some key moments for a short period in the second after a change in position. 5

SUBSTITUTES

Ansu Fati – Came on at half-time to become the first player to score against Osasuna this season and third youngest to score in La Liga. 8

Arthur – Instant impact after coming on for Rafinha in the second half, carried the ball well and scored the winner. 8

Arturo Vidal – Came on for the last 10 minutes. N/A

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Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata suffers knee sprain in training

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Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata looks set for a spell on the sidelines after suffering a “moderate knee sprain” in training.

The former Chelsea frontman sustained the injury during training on Wednesday evening and will not take part in Thursday’s session as he receives treatment.

A statement on the club’s website read: “Alvaro Morata finished Wednesday’s evening training session with a severe pain in his knee due to a twist.

“The striker has undergone radiological tests to know the extent of the injury and has been diagnosed with a moderate knee sprain.

“The Spaniard will not participate in Thursday’s session and is pending response to treatment.” 

Provided by Press Association Sport

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