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Pique: Barcelona by far the best in Spain

Barcelona’s domestic dominance shows they are by far the best team in Spain, according to centre-back Gerard Pique.

The Catalans claimed a treble of LaLiga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in Luis Enrique’s first season in charge, and followed up that success with another domestic double last term.

With Barca having lifted the Supercopa de Espana this month and started their league title defence with a 6-2 thrashing of Real Betis at Camp Nou, Pique is in no doubt over who is the team to beat in Spain’s top flight.

Looking ahead to Barca’s aims for this season, he told Marca: “Of course the Champions League is very important because it’s the most prestigious, but we’ve spent two years winning LaLiga and the Copa.

“It’s something very important because we’ve shown we are the best team in this country by far. Two consecutive doubles haven’t come about for a number of years. That means that we’re by far the team to beat.”

Luis Enrique has strengthened his squad during the transfer window, signing Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez, while Jasper Cillessen is expected to arrive soon to replace Manchester City-bound Claudio Bravo.

Pique accepts that Bravo’s exit is perhaps the best option for the Chile international himself, but is confident that the squad as a whole is supremely strong.

“They are decisions that the club takes with the goal of having a more competitive squad,” he said of Bravo. “If it’s been decided like this, it’s because they think it’s the best option for the goalkeeper. We’re here to try to win titles with what we have.

“We’ve signed very good players. They’re young and bring excitement. They come to compete for a place in the squad and so the coach has a lot of options to choose from in each position.

“That’s good for the team for two reasons. Firstly, if we get any injuries, but also so it produces good competition between players and raises their level.

“The squad this season has a lot of quality, it’s very difficult to compare [with other seasons]. The players are in different eras. I don’t know if this year’s is the best, but I can assure you that it’s very competitive. We’ll try to win titles as we’ve always done.”

Barca continue to be linked with a striker, with Valencia’s Paco Alcacer reportedly the latest target after moves for Kevin Gameiro and Luciano Vietto failed.

But Pique has denied suggestions that players are wary of moving to Camp Nou simply to play as a back-up to attacking trio Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar.

“I don’t think there’s a fear of being a substitute, I don’t see it like that,” he said. “We’re in a transfer period and it’s like a game of poker. Barca don’t want to show their cards until things are clearer.

“I don’t know if anyone will come or not, but I’m sure that we’ll have the best option in attack if there’s ultimately a signing, because Munir is in really good form.”

As for Messi himself, Pique has no doubt that the Argentina star will be desperate to win more silverware after losing in the final of the Copa America Centenario.

“Leo will be careful, as he is every summer. He came after the blow he suffered with the national team and that’s given him more eagerness to win titles,” he added.

Wed 24 Aug, 2016
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