LaLiga Fest raised more than €625,000 on Saturday as Barcelona stalwart Gerard Pique spoke of the need for unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Where Saturday nights would normally consist of fixtures in Spain's top flight, the live action was restricted to performances on an internet stream.

A host of LaLiga stars - including Pique - addressed supporters, while musicians performed at the online festival.

Fans were encouraged to donate to the Banco Santander Foundation, where the money would be used to buy medical equipment to combat COVID-19.

There have been over 72,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain, with close to 6,000 deaths.

The total raised ticked past €625,000 as the festival ended, although donations would continue to be welcomed until Sunday afternoon.

Barca's Pique was the most high-profile star to address those watching, as he claimed players and supporters alike could be "invincible together".

"Without training, at home and trying to stay in shape, it is not easy," the World Cup winner said. "We will get through it between all of us.

"It is a difficult situation, but doing something like what LaLiga is doing makes us feel proud of the players and the fans.

"It is something unique that means any LaLiga fan is able to contribute their grain of sand. I am very happy to be able to participate in such an initiative.

"There is rivalry when we are on the field of play, but when people need us, we are united.

"There will be a cost, it is difficult, we will have difficult times. Others will suffer it in person, but we have to make it through together. We are all invincible together."

Gerard Pique has defended Barcelona assistant Eder Sarabia for his foul-mouthed rant in El Clasico and insisted the players welcome his intense approach in the dugout.

Barca returned to winning ways with a 1-0 triumph over Real Sociedad on Saturday, six days after their desperately disappointing LaLiga loss to rivals Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ahead of the clash with Sociedad, head coach Quique Setien described the focus on Sarabia's outburst against his players during the Clasico as "a bit embarrassing" and urged his assistant to show control.

Setien also apologised to the squad, but Pique stressed that was not necessary after playing the full match at Camp Nou.

"The assistant coach is full of adrenaline and intensity which manifested itself in this way at the Bernabeu, but it is all completely normal for us," Pique said after Lionel Messi's late penalty gave Barca victory.

"All the players discussed it in the dressing room. The boss apologised and we told him that nothing had come from us; if anything it [the controversy] related to the image of the club.

"What's more, we like that there's intensity in the dugout and they are living [the game] too.

"When the club is weak, these types of things come up. A few weeks ago, the talk was about the players not having a huddle before the game because of the change of coach, then it was the warm-up was different.

"It's the same thing. It's another story that happens after a defeat and you always have to go out and deny it. [Sarabia's behaviour] is completely normal."

Pique was relieved to get the job done against a Real Sociedad team who had won six straight matches coming into the clash.

"We knew it was going to be very tough because we are coming from the defeat at the Bernabeu and they are having an exceptional season and they've reached the final of the Copa," said the Spain defender.

"It wasn't going to be easy; they play good football, we try to, and the game was decided by the small details.

"Some hands inside the penalty area have given us the three very important points that are going to help us fight for the title."

Sarabia had also addressed the topic prior to the match and insisted he will remain passionate in his approach.

"My spirit will never change," he said to Movistar. "It's more about ways [of doing things] than the substance.

"It's true that we have to set an example for lot of people, for children. We have to be careful with certain things.

"But I'm going to keep experiencing football intensely, I'm proud to be the way that I am and I'll keep it up, keep working and keep going."

Sergio Ramos hit back at Gerard Pique over his criticism of Real Madrid, saying he would sign to win every El Clasico playing as badly as the Barcelona defender suggested.

Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored second-half goals as Madrid moved above Barca and into top spot in LaLiga with a 2-0 win on Sunday.

But the performance did little to impress Pique as the Barca defender said the hosts in the first half were "the worst Madrid" he has faced at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid captain Ramos said he would happily win every Clasico playing how his side did.

"Everyone's opinion is respectable. I sign to win all Clasicos by making a first half as bad as he says," he told reporters, via AS.

"The approach was different. In the first half, we left the ball and in the second we decided to go.

"They were not so fresh and we started to generate chances."

With 12 LaLiga games remaining, Madrid hold a one-point lead over their rivals, having lost just two league matches this season.

While pleased with the advantage, Ramos urged his side to remain focused late in the campaign.

"That's right. After the latest results we wanted to claim [first] and what better way than at home and before a great team like Barca," the defender said.

"It was a unique opportunity to depend on ourselves. There are three important points but there is much left.

"We must have our feet on the ground."

Gerard Pique described Real Madrid's first-half performance as the worst he has faced in El Clasico encounters despite Barcelona suffering a 2-0 defeat at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona into top spot in LaLiga after claiming their first Clasico league victory in almost four years, with Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz on the scoresheet.

Pique got a touch on Vinicius' opener but was unable to divert it away from his own net and he admitted his side's second-half display against their bitter rivals was not good enough.

But he also fired a broadside at Zinedine Zidane's men, saying Barcelona missed an opportunity to hurt them during a disjointed opening 45 minutes.

"Madrid in the first half was the worst Madrid I've faced at the Bernabeu," Pique told reporters. "We missed a chance to hurt them.

"We have to play better than in the second half, though. We lost balls and they grew in confidence.

"The feeling they [Madrid] transmitted was the worst, and I don't say it as a criticism. We all have problems in our clubs. But I have the feeling that it's an important missed opportunity.

"We are not very well, I say we lost the opportunity to hit the table. We had full control of the game. In the second half, we let them grow based on our losses and they scored a goal, and in the end the second one.

"It is a missed opportunity. In the first half, if we had taken advantage of several chances, we would have left with an advantage on the scoreboard."

The defeat left Barcelona a point behind Madrid with 12 LaLiga matches left to play, and Pique said his side's first Clasico league reverse since April 2016 was a painful one to swallow.

He called for the Blaugrana to raise their game going into the final weeks of the season in order to stay in the title race, and said the return to Camp Nou for their forthcoming clash with Real Sociedad would be a welcome one.

"We have been hit but not sunk," said Pique. "There is room for improvement, and we have enough to win LaLiga if we do things well until the end. But we have to do them well.

"Whenever you lose here, you get hurt because of the importance of the game and the points. If we won, it would have been an important step.

"We have to focus on improving, especially in the second half. Now games come at home, where we are more solvent.

"We will aim to win, game by game, and hope they [Madrid] slip up."

Jordi Alba has been named in the Barcelona squad to face Real Madrid, but head coach Quique Setien is unsure what part the full-back will play in Sunday's Clasico.

Alba injured his right adductor against Getafe on February 15, with Junior Firpo subsequently filling in at left-back against Eibar and Napoli.

However, Alba was on Saturday included in Setien's 18-man selection for the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Setien told a news conference: "The fact is he's very well at the moment, a positive sensation. Clearly you have seen I've put him in the squad.

"The question now is whether he will start the game or not. We're not sure. It depends how he's feeling tomorrow, if he's feeling the same as today.

"He's got another day, but he's looking confident. Let's see whether we play him to start with or not. I haven't decided yet."

Barca boss Setien kept his cards close to his chest, but revealed Alba was not the only player he would be making a late call on, adding: "No, I've got others."

However, Barca should also be boosted by the presence of Gerard Pique in the centre of defence, with the former Manchester United man fit despite suffering an ankle knock against Napoli in midweek.

"I think he's pretty much over the problem he had," Setien said. "There's no major damage. He's over the problem."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied the club hired a social media contractor in order to discredit the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola.

Spanish radio network Cadena SER reported on Monday that an independent social media company was contracted by Barca to boost the public profile of the current board of directors.

The reports also stated the company was tasked with undermining individuals with strong links to the club, including current stars Messi and Pique, former coach Guardiola and midfield icon Xavi.

Following a strong statement of denial on Monday, Bartomeu, while acknowledging Barca had hired I3 Ventures – the company in question – has reiterated the club's stance.

"I want to make clear, for the [Barca] members, and everyone, because I have heard different versions," Bartomeu said at the XIV Vazquez Montalban International Journalism Awards.

"First of all, I have to say that Barcelona haven't hired any service to discredit anyone. Neither players, nor the executives, ex-presidents. That is totally false.

"So we will defend ourselves where necessary regarding this subject, by all means, and in front of anyone who accuses us of doing this. I repeat again, it is false that Barcelona, in any case, has hired no one to discredit anyone."

However, with I3 Ventures connected to one of the accounts named in the reports – Respeto y Deporte (Respect and Sport) – Bartomeu confirmed Barca have ended their relationship with the contractor.

"It is true that at the end of 2017, Barcelona hired a service to monitor different areas of the club in the social media, as the major of the clubs have," he added.

"After the confirmation that one of the accounts linked to one of this company's suppliers have made inappropriate commentaries about people related to our organisation, I have given instructions personally to terminate the contract with this company.

"I want to make something clear. Regarding to the question that "if we have ordered anyone to monitor the social media", the answer is yes and we will still do it. 

"It is the responsibility of this club to know what is going on and what it is being said around the world, always to preserve Barcelona.

"Regarding to the question "If we have ordered to discredit people or institutions through social media" the answer is no and we will persecute everyone who accuses us of it."

Barcelona have denied allegations they hired a company to "damage the image" of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

Spanish radio network Cadena SER on Monday published a story claiming Barca had been working with a company to produce online content through unofficial accounts aimed at protecting president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board.

Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Carles Puyol and former president Joan Laporta were said to have been the subjects of negative posts, while current players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were also targeted, according to the report.

But Barca are adamant the claims are false, insisting I3 Ventures – the company they have worked with – is not behind the accounts in question.

A club statement read: "With regards to information published today about the contracting of a company dedicated to creating opinion on social media with a view to damaging the image of third parties related directly or indirectly with the club, Barcelona: 

"1.- Roundly deny any relationship, and furthermore, the contracting of services linked to social media accounts that have broadcast negative or disparaging messages related to any person, entity or organisation that may be, or have been, related to the club. 

"2.- I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests. 

"3.- As such, Barcelona confirm that it has services contracted relating to the monitoring of social media with the aim of analysing both positive and negative messages about the organisation itself. 

"4.- With the contracting of these services, the club is attempting to look after and preserve its reputation as well those of people related to the club (sponsors, players, board members, members, supporters' club members...), as far as the protection of this reputation is a fundamental element and responsibility for those who work for the organisation. 

"5.- The club demands an immediate rectification of the information published and reserves the right to exercise legal action against those who continue to implicate the club in such practices."

Barcelona have denied allegations they hired a company to "damage the image" of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

Spanish radio network Cadena SER on Monday published a story claiming Barca had been working with a company to produce online content through unofficial accounts aimed at protecting president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board.

Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Carles Puyol and former president Joan Laporta were said to have been the subjects of negative posts, while current players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were also targeted, according to the report.

But Barca are adamant the claims are false, insisting I3 Ventures – the company they have worked with – is not behind the accounts in question.

A club statement read: "With regards to information published today about the contracting of a company dedicated to creating opinion on social media with a view to damaging the image of third parties related directly or indirectly with the club, Barcelona: 

"1.- Roundly deny any relationship, and furthermore, the contracting of services linked to social media accounts that have broadcast negative or disparaging messages related to any person, entity or organisation that may be, or have been, related to the club. 

"2.- I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests. 

"3.- As such, Barcelona confirm that it has services contracted relating to the monitoring of social media with the aim of analysing both positive and negative messages about the organisation itself. 

"4.- With the contracting of these services, the club is attempting to look after and preserve its reputation as well those of people related to the club (sponsors, players, board members, members, supporters' club members...), as far as the protection of this reputation is a fundamental element and responsibility for those who work for the organisation. 

"5.- The club demands an immediate rectification of the information published and reserves the right to exercise legal action against those who continue to implicate the club in such practices."

Gerard Pique said Barcelona's dressing room was united despite the LaLiga champions suffering a crushing blow in an already troubling week, eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.

A 1-0 defeat to Athletic saw Barcelona knocked out of the Copa in the quarter-finals on Thursday, with that familiar route to silverware now cut off to the 30-time winners.

The setback followed criticism from director of football Eric Abidal, who questioned the team's effort under former head coach Ernesto Valverde, which led to a rebuke from star man and captain Lionel Messi.

"It's not time to air the dirty washing. The dressing room is fully united," Barca defender Pique told reporters. "Elimination is a big blow but we said in the dressing room that we've taken a step forward and played well, despite all the noise that's been generated."

He added, according to several Spanish newspapers: "We have to focus on playing and winning. We have to return to winning ways. The players have the ability to keep winning and we are working on that every day, finding a better feel for the game."

With LaLiga and the Champions League still in their sights, Pique said of Barcelona, who are three points behind Real Madrid: "There is enough confidence and talent to be able to win the two remaining titles."

Pique hobbled off in the second half in Bilbao with what initially appeared to be a groin injury, but he said the blow was to his adductor and "not serious".

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Barcelona looked to be on the right track, after a match they could easily have won.

Messi and Antoine Griezmann missed clear chances before Inaki Williams headed the winner deep in second-half stoppage time.

"The first thing is to congratulate Athletic, who will be in the semi-finals, but I also thank the Barca fans who have come and I also congratulate the Barca players because they fought, dominated and played well. [Athletic] have only had one chance and they scored," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

He said that he appreciated Barcelona's "performance and ambition".

"The ambition and the attitude that I saw on the pitch encourages me with a view to LaLiga and the Champions League, so successes can come," Bartomeu added.

"I repeat that we had clear occasions, such as those of Griezmann and Messi, and we dominated. Now we focus on LaLiga and the Champions League, but I want to emphasise the ambition, the attitude and the work done. We deserved to go through."

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said, according to AS: "It is a sad day for everyone. We have two competitions that we have to keep fighting in. This does not stop, we have to continue, we have done things well and we have had the game quite under control. In an isolated play at the end we are out of the Copa."

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique have all been left out of Barcelona's trip to Ibiza in the Copa del Rey.

The trio are being rested for the round-of-32 clash against the third-tier side.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele remain unavailable due to injury, although the former has begun the next stage of his treatment process in Catalonia as he recovers from meniscus damage.

Quique Setien has called up youngsters Carles Perez, Riqui Puig, Abel Ruiz and Chumi to the 18-man squad, alongside rising star Ansu Fati.

Barca face a potentially difficult LaLiga trip to Valencia just three days after the Ibiza clash.

A frustrated Sergio Busquets hit out at the inconsistency of referee Javier Alberola Rojas and questioned why Barcelona did not benefit from a VAR review, after they were denied an injury-time penalty in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Real Sociedad.

Fourth-placed Sociedad were good value for their point against the reigning LaLiga champions, which was earned through Alexander Isak's 62nd-minute strike after Barca had come from a goal down to lead.

However, the visitors felt they should have had a late spot-kick when Gerard Pique claimed his shirt had been pulled by Diego Llorente as the pair fell to the ground in the Sociedad box.

Barca's frustrations were heightened by the fact they had fallen behind to a Mikel Oyarzabal penalty, awarded when Busquets was ruled to have tugged the jersey of Llorente.

"If you set the bar so low for the first penalty, you have to give so many more penalties," insisted Busquets.

"VAR would have to have intervened in that final play. The penalty on Pique is so clear.

"I think the referee saw it, but he didn't want to blow the whistle. I don't know why VAR didn't intervene. I would like to know their explanation, but it's not going to happen."

Busquets was able to speak more positively about Antoine Griezmann, who marked his latest return to his first professional club with Barca's first goal, courtesy of a delightful chipped finish.

"We knew it was special for Antoine, because of his past," added Busquets. "He did not want to celebrate the goal, which is respectable, but for us that goal, and his work as usual, has been very good for us."

Griezmann said: "I will never celebrate a goal against Real. I have a lot of respect for everything they gave me."

Ernesto Valverde passed up the opportunity to berate referee Javier Alberola Rojas after two penalty decisions went against Barcelona in their 2-2 draw at Real Sociedad.

Barca were denied three points in the Basque Country on Saturday, having been outplayed for long periods by a Sociedad side for whom Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard impressed.

However, LaLiga's reigning champions felt they should have been awarded an injury-time penalty when Gerard Pique and Diego Llorente tumbled to the ground contesting a Luis Suarez cross.

Barcelona's frustrations were heightened by the fact Sociedad had taken the lead from a spot-kick of their own after 12 minutes, when Sergio Busquets was penalised for tugging Llorente's shirt in circumstances not dissimilar to those involving Pique at the end of the match.

Yet while sections of the Spanish media bemoaned the consistency of the officials, Valverde was more measured in his post-match comments.

"From the bench you see the game with the shirt of your team on," said the Barca boss.

"The penalty to Pique? I have not seen it repeated but I will say that it is a penalty and that the Busquets one was not. I guess the coach of la Real will say the opposite."

Barcelona's failure to win means Real Madrid can move two points clear at the top of the table by beating Valencia ahead of Wednesday's Clasico at Camp Nou.

Yet Valverde highlighted the fact his side had faced a stiff opponent in fourth-placed Sociedad, adding: "We had a great team in front of us that is having a great season. The game was very intense in every way."

The 55-year-old also firmly rejected suggestions his second-half changes, which saw Busquets, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic withdrawn, had been made with the Clasico in mind.

"What do you think? We are dying here, on the bench, and are we going to think about the Clasico? You think about what you have in front of you," Valverde stated.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique denied his Davis Cup commitments are a distraction and has demanded respect from his critics.

The 32-year-old has spent a large part of the week travelling to Madrid due to the involvement of his company Kosmos in the revamped international tennis team event.

Head coach Ernesto Valverde gave Pique permission to make the trips to the Spanish capital, but he publicly warned the centre-back he would not play against Leganes on Saturday if his focus was not on Barcelona.

After playing a full part in Barca's 2-1 win at Estadio Municipal de Butarque, Pique explained his extra-curricular activities have had no impact on his performances on the field.

"I had friendly talks with [Valverde] this week," Pique told reporters. "He asked me what the plans for this week were and how we were going to do it.

"The relationship between me and him is good and we get along well. We talk every week and everything with him and the club is going well.

"It is more about the noise from the outside, which centres around whether I'm in Madrid, or if I have dinner here or there. It is all part of the circus and part of my job, but I try to do my best.

"In the end, they are 40-minute trips. I think we give a lot of attention to who I am and who I represent, but I try to make things as simple as possible. People can opine whatever they want, but respect me."

Pique, who planned to stay in Madrid to watch the semi-finals of the Davis Cup, talked up the importance of his side's comeback against Leganes.

Youssef En-Nesyri gave bottom side Leganes an early lead, but Luis Suarez and substitute Arturo Vidal hit back in the second half for Barcelona, who continue to jostle with Real Madrid for the LaLiga ascendancy.

"It was important for the team to continue winning in order to gain confidence," Pique said.

"If at the beginning of the season you told us we would be the leaders in LaLiga and our Champions League group, we would have taken it.

"In terms of the game, we know we can improve but the most important thing is to win games."

Luis Suarez says when Gerard Pique speaks "sometimes you have to take everything with tweezers" after the defender said Barcelona stars were ready to alter their salaries to accommodate the return of Neymar.

Brazil star Neymar was heavily linked with a switch back to Camp Nou just two seasons after making a record-breaking €222million move to Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Barca were unable to strike an agreement with PSG despite the best efforts of LaLiga's champions.

Centre-back Pique said last month: "We didn't stump up money.

"What we said to the president was whether we could change our contracts because we knew there was a Financial Fair Play issue... so we said to the president, rather than earn something in year one, we could earn it in year two or three or four."

Star forward Suarez, who formed a devastating trio with Lionel Messi and Neymar at Barca, insists the players had no involvement with the talks and believes not everything Pique said should be taken at face value.

"When Geri speaks, sometimes you have to take everything with tweezers," Uruguayan Suarez told Sport.

"He has a lot of work and a lot of experience in making statements. In this case he knows and is aware that the players were totally out in the case of Ney.

"We were willing to welcome him or any player who wants to come, but always oblivious to the case."

Suarez also insisted everything is well with close-season signing Antoine Griezmann and his integration with Barcelona's squad.

It was reported captain Messi objected to the signing of the former Atletico Madrid forward due to his desire for Neymar to return, although the Argentinian branded such suggestions as a "lie".

Suarez said: "[His integration has been] spectacular, sometimes things are misunderstood. Both Leo and I and Geri himself welcomed him a year earlier, said he was a great player and was one of the best in the world.

"He came from being world champion and we already praised him. Then we didn't know what was going to happen to him, we weren't sure he was coming this year.

"We treat him as one more. It is also true that some have more affinity with some partners than others; in his case he gets along very well with the French players."

Gerard Pique has welcomed Spain's reappointment of Luis Enrique but admitted to being surprised at Roberto Moreno's abrupt departure.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed the unexpected coaching change on Tuesday, bringing an end to Moreno's brief stint in charge of the 2010 World Cup winners.

Moreno took over in a caretaker capacity in March and assumed the head coach role on a full-time basis in June.

Luis Enrique had stepped down as his young daughter, Xana, had developed bone cancer. She died in August.

His former assistant, Moreno, won seven and drew two of the nine matches he oversaw in total, leading to a sense of shock when it became evident that Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Romania was to be his last game.

"In truth it is a little surprising, we all got a little surprise," Barca defender Pique told Mundo Deportivo.

"I'm not there, I haven't talked to my [Barcelona] team-mates because they played on Monday and they didn't train [Tuesday]."

"I am very happy that Luis Enrique returns to training, that is the best news of all," he continued.

"Regarding the relationship between Luis Enrique and Robert Moreno, I have no idea what happened."

Pique has been out of the Spain side since retiring from international football following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He remains a regular starter at club level and expects to stay at Camp Nou until the end of his distinguished career, which could yet end before his contract expires in 2022.

"I have always said my last team will be Barca," said the 32-year-old.

"I have absolutely no intention of wearing any other shirt because... I have been a 'Cule' all my life. For me, being at Barca is the biggest dream of all.

"My intention is to get to 2022, but I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it.

"If I see that I lose importance or see that I am not at the [required] level, I have no problem leaving earlier.

"I don't think it will happen because I know myself and I am able to endure until 2022, but you never know."

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