Barcelona will be forced to travel to France without some key performers. With players already set to miss the match, Vilanova must begin to rotate players now to avoid possibly losing other key performers.
Carles Puyol recently underwent knee surgery and is already set to miss the match. Adriano has also recently been sidelined after tests on his hamstring revealed the Brazilian would miss up to six weeks of action (via the official FC Barcelona website).
Xavi could also miss the test as well after suffering a hamstring injury, though it is unlikely that the midfielder will miss extended time (via the official FC Barcelona website).
Regardless of what happens between now and April, it is clear that Barcelona will fly to France with an already depleted squad. Knowing this, Tito Vilanova must make the right decisions to ensure that he can field his best lineup in Paris.
With Javier Mascherano the likely replacement for Puyol, Marc Bartra could be called upon to give the Argentine some rest in the next few weeks. But with Adriano out, Martin Montoya remains the only backup to fill in for either Dani Alves or Jordi Alba.
Xavi may be the easiest player to cover for with Thiago and Cesc Fabregas both enjoying strong seasons, but the game-reading ability of the midfield maestro can never be made up for.
Tito Vilanova will have a true test on his hands between now and April. If Barcelona are to decide the tie in Paris, the Catalans cannot afford anymore setbacks in their squad.
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Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Barcelona, La Liga and the Champions League.