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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 9 hours ago
Read
Nov 12, 2012

Barcelona's Pique delighted to be back

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was happy to be back in action against Real Mallorca after almost two months out through injury and was not worried by the two quick goals his team conceded in their 4-2 win on Sunday.

• Blog: Messi the record breaker

Pique, 25, picked up an ankle injury against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League in late September and after initially hoping to be back within two to three weeks, he eventually missed 10 games as the problem took longer than predicted to heal.

But after completing the 90 minutes at the Estadio Iberostar, Pique said he felt fine and was happy with his performance and that of his team.

"I returned today after a long absence, and I felt very good," Pique told the Canal Plus TV station after the game. "The team played very well too, so I am very happy with the result and how it went."

Barca's defence had seemed set for a comfortable match after first half goals from Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and Cristian Tello put the leaders three up at the break, but a mistake by Javier Mascherano and a handball inside the area by Sergio Busquets allowed the home side to come back into the game early in the second period.

Pique said he did not believe Barca had defended poorly, adding that their attacking approach meant that opponents would always have some chances in a game. "The second goal was not a mistake, more bad luck as the ball hit Sergio's hand," he said.

"The referee can call it a penalty, but it was not an error from us. On the first goal - well, our philosophy is to play and attack always.

"There is always a chance we will pay for that, and on this occasion it cost us a goal. But we do not dwell on that. Mallorca's goals came from isolated incidents, and the team played a good game."

In the absence of Pique and regular defensive partner Carles Puyol in recent weeks, Barca have suffered in the air - particularly in both Champions League group games against Celtic - when other players such as utility man Adriano Correia, youngster Marc Bartra or ex-Arsenal midfielder Alex Song have had to fill in.

Pique said the situation had not been ideal, but added that he had confidence in his team-mates to cover.

"That [talk] about height is not a big deal as other players can cover for me," he said. "We have had a lot of injuries in defence, and will always suffer with that."

Pique can now focus on next Saturday's La Liga home game against Real Zaragoza because he has been excused international duty this week by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

Meanwhile, Puyol, who returned to full training with his team-mates last Friday, is also expected to be fit for next weekend's Barca game.

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