Barcelona's defence has been badly hit by injuries, a problem compounded by their decision not to buy a central defender in either of this season's transfer windows, explains Andy Mitten.
In defence of Barcelona, Eric Abidal is a welcome return
If Barcelona do go on to win the Uefa Champions League this season nobody will be able to say that they have done it the easy way.
The Catalans lost their coach to cancer treatment for two months while their France international full-back Eric Abidal has not played all season because he, too, is recovering from cancer treatment.
How they have needed him.
Barcelona's defence has been badly hit by injuries, a problem compounded by their decision not to buy a central defender in either of this season's transfer windows.
Instead, they opted for a half measure in buying Alex Song, a midfielder who can play in defence. Just like Javier Mascherano.
The Argentine Mascherano has been more adaptable than the Cameroonian, who has yet to really impress.
All of Barca's defenders have faced injury at some point this season. Lionel Messi's hamstring injury on Tuesday in the 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final generated headlines because the striker will miss the second leg next week, but Mascherano's knee injury inflicted in Paris is more serious and he is likely to be out for six weeks.
Abidal was on the bench in Saturday's 2-2 draw in Celta Vigo, though he did not make the bench in Paris. He might be needed for Saturday's Primera Liga home game against struggling Real Mallorca after the latest defensive injury woe to hit the side.
And what a reception he will get.
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