Popular Spanish national daily sport newspaper, Marca has labelled Gerard Pique “the best centre-back in the world right now” after his excellent showing against his former employers, Manchester United in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday night at Old Trafford.
The visitors were more than happy to keep possession and only break forward when absolutely necessary.
As for United, when they saw the ball – which was usually rescued by Fred or Scott McTominay – they were hopelessly porous in the final third.
Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial just simply could not test Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.
And a lot of that was down to the performance of former Red Devils defender Gerard Pique.
In case you have not been up to date with La Liga this season due to it being on Eleven Sports, the Spaniard is enjoying arguably his finest season in a Blaugrana shirt.
His presence at the back has been the cornerstone their success and whenever he’s been absent, Barca are a different team.
They conceded four goals away at Villarreal without Pique.
And to sum up how good the Spaniard’s performance was at Old Trafford last night, Madrid-based publication Marca actually labelled Pique as the ‘world’s best defender’.
Marca writes: “Gerard Pique was back in England to take on his former club and put in a defensive master class, heading away balls, directing the back line and even unleashing bursts of pace to deal with the Premier League side’s counter-attacks.
“Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba couldn’t match him in the air and Marcus Rashford was unable to do so on the ground.
“This wasn’t a one-off, as the 32-year-old has been superb all season.
“Right now, he’s playing like the best centre-back in the world.”
Why is that such a big deal? Well, Pique is not exactly the most popular player in the world in Madrid.
His pro-Catalan views do not go down well in the Spanish capital and he’s even been booed when playing for the national team as a result.
After the game, Pique says: “It is not easy to win here. In general, we did a good match. We were strong defending. It was a match with few opportunities and small details decided the match. This goal gives us tranquillity but after what happened with PSG we need to be concentrated.”
The second leg in the Camp Nou promises to be a more enthralling prospect.