Barcelona have themselves a major defensive crisis heading into Wednesday's Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid. Gerard Piqué and Marc Bartra both traveled to Valencia, but neither is available to play. The potential heroic "one last game" storyline for Carles Puyol isn't going to happen either, which leaves Gerardo Martino with a problem.
Javier Mascherano is the only healthy central defender available for selection by Tata, so we know he'll start. He's spent basically the entire season at that position, so the converted defender tag was long ago ripped off and thrown away.
The big decision facing the Barca head coach is who to start alongside Mascherano. Based on past matches and tactics, Tata has three options for Wednesday's final. None of them are ideal, but that is why Martino gets paid the big bucks.
Option #1: Sergio Busquets
The holding midfielder started in the defense on Saturday in Barca's 1-0 loss against Granada. Busquets put his team in some bad positions on several occasions, creating some dangerous moments thanks to his poor positioning. Communication was also a problem as he appeared to not be doing any of it with the rest of the back line. Busquets is not a central defender, so asking him to play that role against Real Madrid seems like a really, really bad idea.
The other part of this option that makes it's undesirable is that it would require Alex Song to start in Busquets' normal spot in front of the defense. Song has looked extremely poor every time this season he's been asked to play in that role, including last weekend. Playing Busquets where he belongs, and where he's been successful all season, seems to make the most sense.
Option #2: Alex Song
Song is a defensive midfielder, but has experience playing as a central defender. While he's not the ideal choice, he's clearly the best option for two reasons. First, he's actually played as a central defender during his career, and second, it would allow Sergio Busquets to play in his normal midfield position. Song isn't fast enough to play in the midfield against Madrid, and one expects that Martino noticed his poor decision-making on Saturday that directly led to Granada's game winning goal.
Option #3: Adriano
Currently rumored to be the starter, the fullback has played centrally a few times in his Barcelona career. He hasn't done it this season under Tata Martino, but it's not a totally alien concept to him. If Martino has lost all confidence in Alex Song after his dismal performance over the weekend, Tata might roll the dice and put Adriano next to Mascherano, hoping that he can an least get his positioning right and communicate properly with his fellow defenders.