Iniesta's potential return a boost for Barca

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi uses us like ‘cones’ in training – Samuel Umtiti

The Catalan club will enter the first "clasico" of the season against Real Madrid filled with doubts after a couple of disappointing performances in the Spanish league.

Barcelona's Brazilian star Neymar damaged his Ferrari Spider in a road accident on November 27, 2016 but his club said he was ready to play against Real Sociedad on Sunday night.

Looking back over the campaign, there are only really two or three occasions when Barca could be said to have offered a good all-round performance: the thumping opening day win over Real Betis, the Champions League home victory against Manchester City, and the 5-0 league triumph at Sporting Gijon.

Gerard Pique admitted to the fact that Real Madrid are now the best team in Spain's top flight.

"You can rarely say this about Barcelona, but very little, actually nothing, went our way today", Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said.

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Given La Real's impressive record, it was no surprise to see them start with a spring in their step as they pinned Barca back for virtually the entire first half. It's the players that determine the way we play and, of course, the manager, too, because I believe in using the ball. The opponents were far superior.

"The objective is none other than to win the Copa again as we have done for the last two seasons. We didn't deserve the point we're taking back to Barcelona".

There was also a clear tactic to test a perceived weakness against full-back Jordi Alba in the air, with Xabi Prieto twice going close with headers from left-wing crosses, the second of which was directed wide when he was all alone six yards out.

And Luis Enrique was quick to defend the Spain worldwide, urging the media to cut him some slack.

Barcelona has won eight of their nine recent away matches in La Liga. Even a draw would not be a good result considering the rival's advantage.

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Neymar saw a free-kick pushed around the post by Geronimo Rulli shortly after the break, but, just as Barca looked like mustering some improvement, they went a goal behind.

"So let's not dwell on the negatives of a player who has come here to help us. We will be at home and things will be different".

The Spain global, often a staunch defender of his club and a critic of Real, also said Zinedine Zidane's side were a better team than Barca at the moment. The loss also put an end to Barcelona's 39-game unbeaten streak.

Sevilla beat struggling Valencia 2-1 thanks to an own-goal from Ezequiel Garay and a shot from Nico Pareja following a corner 15 minutes from time. And there were infinite duels which we did not win.

Iniesta will not travel to Alicante for Barca's King's Cup round of 32 first-leg match against Hercules on Wednesday. Luis Enrique is expected to rest almost all of his top players.

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Granada remain winless and rooted to the bottom after a 3-1 defeat at Celta Vigo.


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