Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has bemoaned the absence of Lionel Messi after the champions laboured to a 1-0 defeat of Sporting Gijon at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening.
As expected, the Blaugrana enjoyed the majority of possession, but had to rely on a David Villa goal at the beginning of the second half to seal the points.
Speaking to journalists afterwards, Pique commented on the great void that is created when Messi, who is nursing an ankle injury, is missing from the starting line-up, and that it makes the match a more difficult proposition.
He stated: “The three points were very important, as if you want to compete with the teams above you in the table you have to defeat teams such as Sporting. It is clear that some teams come to the Camp Nou to shut up shop, something that their home fans would not allow them to do.
“The challenge is to always win, with or without Leo [Messi]. It is true that without Messi, everything becomes more complicated, but we have players who can replace him. He wants to return as soon as possible, whether we win or not, but we need to let him recover, the season is long and we need him.”
Barcelona will once again be without Messi for the weekend trip to face Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.
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