Barcelona unbeaten in a record 39 straight games

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Mon, Apr 16, 2018 - Page 10

Barcelona on Saturday set a La Liga record of 39 consecutive games unbeaten, as they rebounded from their humbling Champions League exit by defeating Valencia 2-1 to continue their march to the domestic title.

Philippe Coutinho set up goals for Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti to help Barcelona establish the new Liga milestone.

The feat came four days after the Catalan club squandered a 4-1 first-leg advantage by losing at Roma 3-0 and failed to reach Europe’s final four for the third year in a row.

With their hopes of a rare treble ended, Ernesto Valverde’s side stayed on course for a double in Spain after dealing third-placed Valencia their first loss in 10 rounds.

“These three points are gold,” Valverde said. “Sometimes this club’s fans tend to get downcast easily and when there is a loss like Tuesday’s, everything falls apart. We needed to step it up today, and I must congratulate my players, because it wasn’t easy.”

Barcelona, who are to play Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final next weekend, opened a 14-point gap over second-placed Atletico Madrid before the latter’s game against Levante yesterday.

Barcelona took the record outright by surpassing Real Sociedad’s mark of 38 straight league games without a loss that had stood since 1980.

Barcelona remains undefeated through 32 rounds this season and finished their last campaign without a loss over the final seven games under former coach Luis Enrique.

“We wanted to reaffirm the great league campaign we are having after the setback the other day,” Suarez said. “Records exist so you can break them, but the most important thing was to win considering the mood surrounding the team, which we know wasn’t good. Our fans were angry.”