It is clear from this season that Barcelona have some work to do strengthening the squad. The defensive side, especially, is in need of an overhaul, with Puyol now 34-years old and Abidal set to retire or move into coaching. There are young defenders like Bartra, while Alex Song and Adriano can play in central defence if necessary, but one or two top class defenders are needed to strengthen the spine of the team and avoid any repeat of the Champions League debacle against Bayern Munich.
It would be a real life fairytale if it happened and, after coming through 90 minutes for Barcelona against Levante on Saturday, there is a decent chance that Eric Abidal could make his Champions League return against Bayern Munich tomorrow.
There will be no room for sentiment in the decision, but if the French defender does get the nod it will be a fantastic way to complete his miracle recovery from the liver problems that nearly ended his life, not just his football career.
The Champions League draw for Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain has one extra special ingredient, Zlatan Ibrahimovich. Since he left Barcelona in 2010, the Swedish striker has had plenty to say about the Catalan club, including disrespectful things about his manager Pep Guardiola and his team mate Lionel Messi. Ibra recently retracted his statements a little and seems to have calmed down, but there is no doubt he would love to get one over his old club.
David Villa has been getting increasingly frustrated with his lack of playing opportunities for FC Barcelona, so he will want to prove his worth against Cordoba tonight. After playing for just 50 minutes as a substitute in the last six league games, Villa will start in the Copa Del Rey tonight.
There will be a number of first team regulars who are not in the team, including Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro and Pique, who are all rested. Adriano has failed a fitness test so will also miss out. Messi is in the squad but may not start, which raises more questions about the relationship between the two strikers. It is more likely, however, that they occupy the same position so are not ideally suited to playing together, although they have done so with some success when Villa has played this season.
The Barcelona game against Athletico Madrid was billed as the battle of the two strikers, Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao, as well as the battle between the top two teams in the Spanish Primera Liga. After Real Madrid had surprised everyone by drawing with relegation threatened Espanyol earlier, it really was starting to look like Diego Simeone could be fighting it out with Vilanova for the title.
To look at the champions league and La Liga tables, you would think that all is going to plan for FC Barcelona and the new coach Tito Vilanova. Barca are top of the Spanish league, level on points with Athletico Madrid and eight points ahead of Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho and his finger. Two wins out of two and a double header against the Scottish champions Celtic next should see Barca easily through as group winners.
Behind the scenes, however, Vilanova has been having a nightmare because his players keep getting injured. Is it coincidence or is there an underlying problem with training techniques? The facts are astonishing.