With Busquets injured, Mascherano will be the defensive midfielder. With Piqué as untouchable, who will be his partner in the center-back?
Marc Peiron (Bartra)
Although they played together last match against Eibar, Luis Enrique has been very obvious signs that he does not like Bartra and Piqué to play together, as they have a similar profile. However, bearing in mind that Pique is in a great form and is untouchable, I think his mate in the heart of the defense must be Marc Bartra.
And it should be like that because of merits made throughout the season. When he plays, although doing it with Piqué, his numbers have been very good, more than Mathieu’s. The French is not doing a horrible season, but on more than one occasion it seemed evident that he does not have the required level at Barca. Instead, Marc Bartra besides having grown in Barça’s Academy, he has always shown concentration, self demand and performing at a higher level than Mathieu. This season the French (44) has lost many more balls than Bartra (16). The Catalan has also made more key successful passes (27) than Mathieu (12). I think that Bartra should be the starter center-back of the coming years and his confidence will grow if he sees the coach trust in him.
Marc Marbà (Mathieu)
The partner of Piqué against Manchester City should be Jeremy Mathieu. Despite Luis Enrique’s obsession, The Champions League match can’t be understood without El Clásico. Moreover, the result of the first leg (1-2) gives context to understand that Barça can’t speculate with the result.
In this sense, Pique-Mathieu partner gives more defensive solidity, height for strategic moves and speed to stop the counterattack of City. In the absence of having more options to start the plays with the ball, Barça win in consistency and centimeters. In fact, the absence of Busquets and taking into account El Clásico, I think that Barça will need the best Bartra to face Real Madrid, because they will press high and Barça want to have the ball. On Sunday it will be time for the footballers. Against City, defense is a priority.