Gerard Pique has been one of the most important players for Barcelona under new manager Tata Martino. He has played nearly every minute of the season thus far and is growing in his ability to lead.
As a La Masia graduate, Pique knows the Barcelona system. He has grown up playing the Barcelona way and will likely be doing so for the rest of his career.
With Pique now being considered the most important defender under, Martino let’s now take a look at what makes him who he is. Following is a quick scouting report on Pique’s strengths and weaknesses with statistics from WhoScored.
Above anything else Pique’s greatest strength is his ability to play with the ball at his feet. Being a Barcelona player, he has to know how to pass the ball and be comfortable in possession. Luckily that may just be his strongest attribute.
Pique’s height and size give him an advantage over attackers. The 26-year-old is very strong and, surprisingly, has a good bit of pace for a tall defender.
The Catalan is also capable of reading the game very well, as his best defending comes when he is off the ball. Nearly 20 percent of Pique’s defensive actions are interceptions; he mainly relies on anticipating plays and being in the right place rather than taking on an attacker.
Though his on-ball defending may not be as strong as it should, Pique is rather capable of winning the ball back. He makes several tackles every match and doesn’t lose the ball often.
Pique is a very confident player. Even when he does make a mistake it doesn’t bother him. He continues to work hard and believes in what he is doing. Sometimes confidence can be a defender's best quality.
A few years ago, Pique was arguably one of the very best defenders around. However, he struggled heavily last season and even became a problem for Barcelona at times.
Without Carles Puyol beside him, Pique’s focus and concentration began to drop and mistakes became much more common. But that is going away this season.
Pique may be a tall and strong defender, but he is surprisingly very weak in the air. He is not as good at winning the ball in the air as he should be, and that has cost Barcelona several times over the last two years.
The La Masia graduate also finds directly defending an attacker very difficult. Pique can be beaten off of the dribble by a quick attacker, but he normally does well in winning the ball back.
Pique is one of the best defenders around statistically. This season he has averaged over 2.5 tackles per match as well as two interceptions. He only makes roughly one foul per match and is beaten off the dribble only 0.8 times as well.
The defender is averaging nearly six clearances per game and continues to make more stops as the season continues.
On the offensive side of the ball, Pique enjoys a 93 percent pass accuracy rating, showing that he is more than capable of distributing the ball effectively. His seven long balls per game also show how comfortable he is at playing the ball around with confidence.
Pique’s Role at Barcelona
Here is what it all comes down to. What is Gerard Pique’s role at Barcelona this season and moving forward?
The problem is that many fans continue to judge Pique on the mistakes he made last season. The 26-year-old has only made one defensive error this year and has actually been very solid since the new season began.
He has been at his best alongside Marc Bartra, and the two are starting to form a very capable defensive pair.
Last year Pique’s future at Barcelona was in jeopardy. He continued to make worrisome mistakes, and it looked as though he could not play without Puyol beside him.
This season things have changed. He still isn’t the player he was a few seasons ago, but last year is clearly behind him. Pique is learning how to lead a defense and has looked great beside Bartra.
To put it simply, Pique and Bartra are the future of Barcelona. Pique is a La Masia graduate and has won everything with Barcelona. He will remain at the club until he wants to leave, meaning he will likely retire there.
Be prepared for Pique to remain in the Blaugrana defense for a long time. Judge him on what he has done this season and it is easier to enjoy his matches. Judge him on last year and you will spend each match having a panic attack.
How has Gerard Pique played this season? Is he the defensive leader Barcelona needs? Leave your thoughts and comments below!