Pique backs Real Madrid to recover from bad start

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has admitted his surprise at Real Madrid’s poor start to the season but does not believe the result of Wednesday’s Supercopa will have any long-term effect on their battle for the Primera Division title.

Madrid head into the second leg at the Bernabeu still searching for their first victory of the campaign after three matches. In La Liga they are already five points behind Barca, hardly the start Jose Mourinho would have been looking for.

Another setback against Barca would be a bitter pill to swallow for the capital club, who deposed their arch-rivals as Spanish champions last season. However, Pique does not believe a Barca triumph will strike a terminal blow to Madrid’s title defence.

“It’s surprising that Madrid have lost five points in two games. They’d been unbeaten in the league since December, but Madrid are Madrid, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and they could put together a 30-match winning streak,” he said.

“I don’t think that the result will have any influence on the league. Whoever wins the league is the most consistent over 38 games, not the two that we’ve played up until now. No matter how many points there are between us now, the season is very long.”

Madrid have been boosted by the arrival of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric and Pique believes Madrid have got themselves a fine player. “He’s very good. We played against him in the European Championships. He has a good touch. We’ll see how he settles in,” the Spain international said.

Barca, who are looking to win their fourth successive Supercopa, could still be led into action by captain Carles Puyol despite the defender suffering a fractured cheekbone against Osasuna.

Puyol trained on Tuesday wearing a protective face mask and coach Tito Vilanova will decide today whether or not to include the veteran defender in his starting XI.

Cesc Fabregas is likely to make way for Andres Iniesta in midfield with concerns over the former Arsenal star’s form.

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