Carles Puyol dislocated his elbow mid-week, while Gerard Pique is suffering from a foot injury and was not able to get fit in time for El Clasico. While Barcelona have incredible talent in their first XI and some solid depth in most areas, their depth at central defense is not impressive. With Pique and Puyol unavailable, Tito Vilanova's options in defense are very limited for the first league Clasico against Real Madrid.
Javier Mascherano will occupy one spot for sure, and he has experience playing central defense in big games for the Blaugrana. The options alongside him aren't great. Barcelona will either go with Marc Bartra, the Barcelona B standout, or more likely new purchase Alex Song, who has spent more time at defensive midfield than central defense. He struggled in the position last week against Sevilla, and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes is skeptical about his readiness for a game of this magnitude.
Make no mistake that I am definitely giving Song the time he needs to improve. Unfortunately for Tito and Barca, our 2 starting centre backs are out injured and therefore the coach will be forced to choose between Song and Bartra ... It is safe to say that Song will start in defense. Like Cristian Tello, Song just might find Real Madrid a little too much to handle so early into his Barca career. Tello was terrible in last season's Clasico but Pep had little choice as far as a winger was concerned. The good news is that Barca have had time to prepare. Moreover, Song and Mascherano have had time to build some chemistry and we can hope that they have a good day.
Song played some central defense at Arsenal and certainly has the physical talent to hang with Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema, but he's yet to show that he can put together a complete performance at that position against elite opposition.