How can Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola fill huge gap at the back?

06 April 2010 01:18
Understudy: Gabi Milito[LNB]Cesc Fabregas's monumental contributionto Arsenal's first-leg comeback at the Emirates last week went beyond playing with a cracked fibula and scoring the equalisingpenalty he also helped ensure that two of Barcelona'smost important players will sit out tonight's match. [LNB]Central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were sent off and booked respectively for fouls on the Arsenal captain in the 2-2 draw and both are suspended for the quarter-final second leg. [LNB]The heart has been ripped out of Barcelona's defence and manager Pep Guardiola must pick two from three replacements, each carrying an element of risk. [LNB]Argentinian Gabi Milito is thesurest to start but he is only three months back from a knee injury that ruled him out for a year and a half.[LNB] Rafael Marquez should line up alongside him, given his wealth of experience in the role, but the Mexico captain has looked shaky all season.[LNB]If the fans had their way, Yaya Toure  would partner Milito, but he has not played in central defence since last season's ChampionsLeague final victory againstManchester United. [LNB]Whoever steps in, they have big boots to fill with Pique and Puyol marshalling La Liga's meanest defence, concedingonly 19 goals. [LNB]And a large proportionof Barcelona's attacks begin with one of them bringing the ball out from the back.[LNB]Milito's return from injury has felt like anew signing, withgoalkeeper VictorValdes saying: 'It is not just his contribution on the pitch.[LNB] Versatile: Yaya Toure[LNB]'He also plays a big part in the dressing room.'[LNB]Milito has started five of Barca's last nine games but alongside him could be a player who has played 17 minutes in that time. [LNB]Marquez's trademark crossfield passes are still finding their target but defensively he has looked a liability, and the decision tohand the 31-year-old a new contractthis season looked more like a thank-you gift than good forward planning. [LNB]If Guardiola finally decides against Marquez, Toure will play alongside Milito.[LNB] The man once rejected by Arsene Wenger after a trial against Barnet was a revelationlast season when he filled in with such distinction against Chelsea and Manchester United in the Champions League and against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Cup final. [LNB]But since that Champions League final in Rome, when he shut out Cristiano Ronaldo, the Ivory Coast star has not played a single match as a centre back.[LNB]  Arsenal need a miracle! Barca's Alves dismisses Wenger's walking wounded Arsenal are on the verge of history in clash with Barcelona, insists Petit Barcelona fear Walcott, says Arsenal boss Wenger ahead of showdown [LNB] [LNB]  

Source: Daily_Mail