Pique and Marcos Alonso will be Barça's 'forced' defence in Plzen

Pique and Marcos Alonso will be Barça's 'forced' defence in Plzen

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The duo will start with the other centre-backs at the club either injured or not 100%

Nothing is at stake for Barça this Tuesday in Plzen, where they will close the group stage of the Champions League knowing they are out of the top continental competition. Xavi Hernández, as expected, will make many changes and will give opportunities to those who have had fewer minutes this season and perhaps also to the youngsters from the academy.

But where Xavi has less margin is in defence and, more specifically, at centre-back. The agonising victory at Mestalla against Valencia had consequences in the form of injuries and physical problems. Eric Garcia and Jules Kounde were both substituted, joining Christensen and Araujo on the sidelines. Kounde's knock is not thought to be significant, but in an inconsequential match no one will be forced.


The only pure central defender available to the first team is, therefore, Gerard Pique. He had a few minutes at Mestalla in place of Kounde.

The Barcelona native will probably be accompanied in the center of defence by Marcos Alonso, signed as a left-back but as a Barça player, five of his last six appearances have been in the center.

The partnership formed by Pique and Marcos Alonso is not unprecedented, as it was already used against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou. Barça won 1-0, but Celta generated many scoring chances and both suffered tremendously. That was Piqué's last start in the League.


Xavi could also 'improvise' with Frenkie de Jong in the axis of defence, since another option, that of Sergio Busquets, is impossible due to the captain's suspension. And he has the academy, too, albeit with the problem that the most renowned B team central defender, Chadi Riad, cannot play in the Champions League due to the regulations, since he was loaned to Sabadell two seasons ago and has not played three consecutive seasons at the club.

Nor does Alpha Diounkou, who has just recovered from an injury, meet the requirements -- he arrived in the winter market last season -- so only Pelayo Fernández remains, a central defender who started the season very strong, but like the rest of the team, has been running out of steam in recent weeks.

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