Barcelona have an unwelcome injury crisis ahead of their trip to Las Palmas on Sunday.
Sergio Roberto picked up a knock this week, which will likely keep him out of the tie, and he joins Jeremy Mathieu, Lucas Digne and Alex Vidal on the treatment table.
Gerard Pique is also suffering from an illness and is expected to miss Barca’s crucial game, meaning Luis Enrique only has three fit defenders to choose from.
In other words, it’s a tough time for Barcelona to be facing an injury crisis. The news this week has gone from bad to worse; Gerard Pique’s illness and his absence has accentuated by the fact that Jeremy Mathieu remains sidelined by injury and that Sergi Roberto will miss out through suspension. Summer signing, Marlon has received a call-up for the match to bolster the defensive ranks but without a recognised right-back and without their best centre-half, Barcelona’s defense is looking even thinner than usual.
A victory for the Catalan side will ensure the title race goes to the final day of the season. Real Madrid face Sevilla at the exact same time as the Barcelona game, in what could ultimately prove to be a decisive weekend in determining who tops the table.
Luis Enrique therefore has a major decision to make in his penultimate La Liga match as Barcelona coach; does he switch back to a three-man defense, or does he stick with a four-man backline and play at least one player out of position?
Here is the Barcelona line-up that we can see against Las Palmas.
The German goalkeeper has only missed two La Liga games so far this season, and has kept 13 clean sheets in that time.
He may need to put in a good showing on Sunday night, due to Barca’s makeshift defence.
With Luis Enrique missing so many senior defenders he is likely to revert to a back three.
The system change will see Jordi Alba occupy an unfamiliar central position, which will mostly likely reduce his ability to make attacking bursts forward.
If however, Enrique does opt to stick with his usual 4-3-3 shape, he is expected to hand 21-year-old Marlon his first league start.
A switch to a 3-4-3 formation would most probably see either Denis Suarez or Andre Gomes drafted into the team.
Given Suarez’s slightly more defensive style, the 23-year-old may just get the nod.
Andres Iniesta is expected to shift out wide as a result of the tactical change, but would likely cut inside on his right foot throughout the game.
The most famous front three in world football are expected to start Barca’s penultimate league game of the season.
The trio between them, have netted an incredible 102 goals in all competition this year, with Messi claiming half of that tally.
The Argentine has netted an impressive eight times in his last five games.