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Barça's centre-backs face new test

SPORTYOU SPORTYOU 20/02/2016 sportyou
Barça's centre-backs face new test © Getty Images Barça's centre-backs face new test

The absence of Gerard Piqué for the Las Palmas clash opens the door for the less-frequently picked Blaugrana defenders. Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Vermaelen and Marc Bartra will have a new chance to show what they are capable of, though for them an opportunity is usually more of an exam. Centre-backs tend to be looked at closely at Barça and, although although Piqué is currently in great form, hardly any of the defenders in the Culé squad are ever free of criticism. In the case of these three contenders, the pressure is greater as they have fewer minutes in which they have to show a lot more. Such is the importance of this question that Barcelona are now searching for a promising centre-back who can offer guarantees to occupy the middle of the defence for many years to come.

This weekend, as well, the needs of the team could mean that these three centre-backs share two places in Luis Enrique's starting eleven in Gran Canaria. Sergi Busquets is also out -having accumulated five yellow cards- and Javier Mascherano could be the one chosen to move forward and take his place in midfield meaning that the centre of the defence would be in the hands of two of Mathieu, Vermaelen and Bartra. Another option would be to put Ivan Rakitic or Sergi Roberto in the pivot position and play Mascherano as centre-back, leaving only one spot available for the three candidates.

Bartra has not started a game in the league since October and is, apart from Douglas, the defender that Luis Enrique has called on the fewest times this season. In the case of Vermaelen, his last game in the starting eleven was in the recent visit to Málaga, where Barcelona's defence had a lot of problems, both fending off their opponents and playing the ball out. Mathieu, who started on Wednesday against Sporting de Gijón, looks the most likely to play from the start alongside Mascherano, if the Argentinean is not chosen to play in the midfield.

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