Over the weekend against Levante in La Liga, all of Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Pedro Rodriguez started for Barcelona. Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were both rested for that game, and they are both stone cold locks to start in the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea on Wednesday. Because of the versatility of these three players and Iniesta, along with the interchangeable nature of Barcelona's forward positions, it's not obvious who is going to play and who is going to sit.
Only one of Fabregas, Thiago or Pedro is going to start. Pedro is the natural choice to fill in as a wide forward, but Pep Guardola has not been opposed to starting Fabregas, Thiago or Iniesta in a front three with Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez. All of his options are in play.
Each player gives him something different, and his selection will probably be based on what he wants out of his left forward and most advanced central midfield player. If he wants the paciest player and the one who best fits a wide forward role, Pedro will get the nod. Thiago is the most natural advanced midfield player if Iniesta is moved out to wide forward, and Fabregas is the most versatile of the three.
In addition to being the most versatile, Fabregas is the most experienced and he's also been the most productive this season. He did not start away to AC Milan in the last round, but he was a starter in Barcelona's other three Champions League knockout stage matches. Additionally, he started away to Milan in the Champions League group stages and he started in the league Clasico against Madrid, as well as the two Copa Del Rey Clasicos.
Fabregas does not fit into a vacant position perfectly at Barcelona, but he's proven this season that he can fill whatever role he's asked to fill. Those who thought he was moving to Barcelona from Arsenal simply to back up Xavi have been proven wrong. He's ahead of Pedro and Thiago in the pecking order, and he was ahead of David Villa before he went down with a broken leg.
Unless Guardiola has a very specific plan for another player on Wednesday, Fabregas should and will start.
We'll have continuous pre-game updates and live game coverage in our Chelsea vs. Barcelona, UEFA Champions League Semifinals StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.