Montoya, Puyol i Piqué, després del triomf contra el València. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Barça will go into the game with a number of players unavailable – especially in defence, with Alves suspended and Adriano and Abidal out injured, as well as long term absentee Fontas, and the coaching staff will need to shuffle their pack to fill the gaps.

Puyol’s versatility

The most common solution taken in similar situations has been to have Mascherano and Piqué play at the heart of defence, with Carles Puyol moving to full back. The captain is versatile enough to play on the right or the left, as well as both of the centre back positions – he actually started his first team career as a right back and has experience of playing in key matches – such as last season’s Champions League semi finals – at left back.

It’s also possible that with the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals on the horizon, Puyol will be rested.

Montoya and Muniesa - two safe options

There are two B team full backs who could also step up to cover one or both positions: right back Montoya – who has shown what he can do when Guardiola has called on him, for example against BATE or Valencia, and Muniesa, who has been training with the first team squad and took part in the game against Leverkusen.

Three man defence

It wouldn’t be out of character for Guardiola to settle for a three man defence either – as he did in the league game against Villarreal when he was short of defenders. The last time he used a three man back line was El Sardinero, three games ago, when the results were, as usual, positive.

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