la liga

Barcelona set new La Liga record after 39-game unbeaten run

Barca beat Valencia 2-1 to pass the 38 matches Real Sociedad managed without defeat between 1979 and 1980.

Barcelona set a new La Liga record by extending their unbeaten run to 39 games with a 2-1 victory over Valencia on Saturday.

Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti were both on target as Barca passed the 38 matches Real Sociedad managed without defeat between 1979 and 1980. Dani Parejo gave Valencia brief hope with an 87th-minute penalty.

The win at the Camp Nou, which was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested, also eases fears that Tuesday’s Champions League collapse against Roma could affect Barcelona’s march to the league title.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are now 14 points clear at the top of the table, before second-placed Atletico Madrid play their game in hand against Levante on Sunday.

Valencia stay third, one point ahead of Real Madrid, who are also in action on Sunday, away to Malaga.

“The value of these three points is great, they are three points of gold,” Valverde said.

“The week has been hard and that hard week affects everyone, including the fans.

“We have not lost much but the game the other day was important and you have the feeling that we have disappointed people. You want to repay them.”

There is no doubt Barca’s shock defeat in Italy still lingers, and may still, even if the Catalans secure the first part of an expected domestic double by winning the Copa del Rey next weekend.

But it should take little away from their faultless form in the league, which means the last time they tasted defeat outside a cup competition was against Malaga just over 12 months ago.

This was already a club record run, now eight games better than the 31 unbeaten Pep Guardiola’s brilliant team strung together in the season of 2010-11.

It would now seem only the home Clasico against Real Madrid on May 6, and perhaps an awkward trip to Celta Vigo on Tuesday, stand in the way of Barcelona finishing the league campaign as invincibles.

“Records are there to be broken,” Suarez told beIN Sports. “The public can be angry about the Champions League, like us, but this is a recognition of the great season we are having in the league, which now seems to have been forgotten.”

Coutinho returns

Despite their exertions in Rome, Valverde resisted the temptation to rest key players, with Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho coming in for Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo.

Barca showed few signs of lost confidence early on and after 15 minutes they took the lead, Coutinho drifting in from the right and, after spotting Suarez’s angled run, poking a superb pass in behind. Suarez took the finish first time and swept the ball inside the near post.

Valencia, however, found a foothold and arguably were the better side by the end of the half.

Pique, already booked, endured a difficult 45 minutes and as he and Marc-Andre ter Stegen dallied at the back and the latter’s skewed pass fell to Carlos Soler. Soler played in Rodrigo Moreno but Ter Stegen made up for his mistake by pushing the shot onto the bar.

Barcelona started the second half like they began the first though and five minutes after the restart, they doubled their advantage.

Umtiti beat Gabriel Paulista to Coutinho’s corner and while his header was parried by Neto, Valencia’s goalkeeper could only push it in off the post.

Valencia’s belief was dwindling and two acrobatic volleys, from Lionel Messi and then Andres Iniesta, almost added a spectacular third, as the first flew just over and the second was parried by Neto.

There was time for a tense finish after substitute Ousmane Dembele brought down Jose Gaya in the area and Parejo’s feeble penalty squirmed under the body of Ter Stegen. But Barca’s morale-boosting win was never really in doubt.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.