FC Barcelona are not in the best moment coming into the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final matchup with Real Madrid. It would be a stretch to say that they're no longer the confident world-beating team of a few months ago - the talent is still there, but they're at the very least a little off form, as a 1-1 draw in Madrid followed by a 1-0 loss in the Copa Del Rey final and an unconvincingly narrow win over Osasuna will attest.
For Adi-Oula Sebastian of SB Nation's Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes, there's more to worry about than just bad form though. The defence is in dire condition, with injuries robbing Pep Guardiola's squad of their frst and third choice centre halves as well as every single recognised left back on the roster. When you combine Barcelona's form and injury concerns, you end up with a side looking to just hold on at the Santiago Bernabeu and take the fight back to the Camp Nou:
With Eric Abidal definitely ruled out for the rest of the season and Adriano’s fitness a major question, Maxwell’s latest injury comes at the worst possible time. FC Barcelona do not have any further personnel to compensate for their loss [at left back]. At the very least, their failure to properly address their defense in the last two transfer windows has come back to haunt them in the final stages of the current campaign.
For the time being, Pep Guardiola should take a cue out of Jose Mourinho’s playbook and avoid a defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu at all costs. A draw, whether a scoring one or not, would be to FC Barcelona’s advantage, especially since the return leg will be played at Barcelona’s Camp Nou venue.
The problem is, of course, that this Barcelona side is built to attack, not go for draws (even more so with captain Carles Puyol out). Will playing for the tie prove a risky strategy in the light of Real Madrid's multi-faceted attacks? Perhaps not - Madrid have been at their best playing the Catalans on the counterattack recently, and if Guardiola's men give them less opportunity to strike on the transition they have a very good chance of taking a favourable result back home.