Additional reporting by AFP.
Barcelona starlet Gerard Pique was described as being “in the form of his life” while his side hosted Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League semi-finals.
Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Pique combined have played in 34 Champions League semi-finals matches between them and while the likelihood is there will be more to come, nothing is guaranteed. If the next takes as long to arrive as this one, Messi will be almost 36.
“When Ernesto Valverde took charge at the start of last season, Barcelona were wounded by consecutive Super Cup defeats to Real Madrid. “For the first time I feel inferior to them,” said Pique.
But while the pressure on the pitch can be extreme, off it, Pique cuts a far more relaxed figure.
Married to pop sensation Shakira, the loved-up couple often share cute snaps of their life together on Instagram. Sometimes, it’s a welcome relief from the floodlights.
Shakira even has a cute little Pique figurine that goes on tour with her to “surprise” the audience sometimes.
Shakira and Pique: #CoupleGoals and how they met
The couple have to kids together – Sasha and Milan. They met while she was filming a video of her song “Waka Waka” for the South Africa World Cup in 2010.
Pique’s got jokes, too
Pique irked much the world’s media Shakira had given birth to their first child.
Five years ago, he shared a message on Twitter saying:
“Our boy has already been born! We are very happy! Thank you all for your messages!”
But the message came on the “Day of the Innocents” when people in Spain play practical jokes on each other, and strangely there was no confirmation of the happy news from Shakira.
Later Pique seemed to be letting fans know it was a joke in a second message:
“He already has a name! He is called Innocent! Happy Day of the Innocents to all!”
Britain’s Daily Mirror said in its online gossip column: “We’re not very happy with Gerard Pique today.”
The news site said it “got all excited” by Pique’s first message. “But don’t get carried away like we did,” the paper advised readers. “It’s all thought to be a big prank.”
Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais was equally unimpressed, running the headline: “Shakira and Pique are parents… of the worst joke of the year.”