BARCELONA - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola
is pondering his options in naming a makeshift central defence
to face Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, with
suspension and injury ruling out Gerard Pique and captain Carles
Eric Abidal, who is enjoying one of his best seasons in the
Catalan capital, has successfully switched over from left-back
several times already this season, while Sergio Busquets has
shown impressive versatility in dropping back from his normal
defensive midfield role when required.
GEAR: Up to £15 off Champions League kits through Kitbag. Free delivery on orders over £50
Gabriel Milito may be given a rare Champions League start,
although the 30-year-old has looked short of pace since
returning from a long-term knee injury.
The La Liga leaders seek to overturn a 2-1 deficit from last
month's first leg in London as they bid to reach the
"If we don't get through tomorrow it won't be because Pique
and Puyol are not there," Guardiola told a news conference on
Monday. "A great team cannot allow itself to depend on players who
LIVE COVERAGE Follow it with the FourFourTwo team as it happens
Both Pique and Puyol missed last year's quarter-final,
second leg against Arsenal, when Lionel Messi scored all four
goals in a 4-1 win that put Barca through 6-3 on aggregate.
Busquets said he was ready to fill in in the back four.
"Of course they (Pique and Puyol) are very notable absences
but we managed to win last year without them," he said.
"It's the coach's decision but I am ready to play wherever I
am needed," the 22-year-old added.
"We have other players in the squad who can step in but
wherever I play I feel very comfortable."
If Guardiola opts for Abidal and Busquets in central
defence, Javier Mascherano would likely come into the midfield
behind playmaker Xavi and Maxwell would step in at left back.
Arguably, the full-backs will be more important on Tuesday,
as it was the pace of Arsenal's attacks down the flanks that
caused Barca the most problems in the first leg.
Guardiola expects Arsenal to try to deny his players the
space to attack and attempt to cause damage on the break using
speedy players like Samir Nasri and Andriy Arshavin.
"We'll have to attack with more discipline than ever because
they are very dangerous on the counter," he said.
He dismissed a question that referred to Arsenal's apparent
inability to deal with pressure.
"Right now they are competing at the top of the Premier
League, they were in the final of the Carling Cup and they
always get far in the Champions League," he said.
"When they are competing every season at the top it's
because they are quality."
Italian named as the referee for this Saturday's Champions League final
Spurs miss out on Champions League again despite highest Premier League points tally
Champions closer to matching Real Madrid's La Liga record of 100 points with 2-1 win
AC Milan score twice in last six minutes to beat relegated Siena 2-1 to finish third
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010