Barcelona take on Manchester City in Champions League
Barcelona, March 17 (IANS) FC Barcelona's next five days will ultimately define whether their season is a success or failure as they start the period by entertaining Manchester City at Camp Nou on Wednesday night in their Champions League last 16 tie.
Barcelona must defend a 2-1 first-leg lead against the English champions on Sunday playing at home to Real Madrid in a game which will almost certainly decide the destination of La Liga.
Luis Enrique's side are almost at full strength and rested from the weekend as several key players such as Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Andres Iniesta were all rested or suspended for the 2-0 win away to Eibar.
Sergio Busquets in the only player who is likely to miss out as an ankle injury he suffered a fortnight ago means he is still 'touch and go' to be fit for the weekend.
Busquets' absence means the only doubt will be who fills his absence in midfield and Enrique must decide whether to continue with Rafinha in the middle or put his faith in Xavi Hernandez or push Mascherano into a more advanced role and bring either Jeremy Matthieu or Marc Bartra in alongside Gerard Pique in defence.
Manchester City travel to Camp Nou on the back of a dreadful display that saw them outfought and defeated 0-1 away to relegation candidates Burnley at the weekend.
That defeat saw them slip six points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, who also have a game in hand and Manuel Pellegrini's side now have a battle on their hands to finish in second place ahead of Arsenal.
Manchester City need to score at least twice in Camp Nou to have a chance of going through and will be grateful for Lionel Messi's late missed penalty three weeks ago which would have put the tie beyond reach.
Players such as Kun Aguero, David Silva, Wilfred Bony and Edin Dzeko are capable of scoring the necessary goals but to have any chance City will need to control the midfield and defend better against Barcelona's attacking trio of Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez.
And if Barcelona hit their stride that is a lot easier said than done.