Sergio Busquets ready to help plug Barca injury gap

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has said he is prepared to play in central defence if needed as Barca look to move one step closer to the Liga title with a win at Real Zaragoza on Sunday.

Updated: April 12, 2013 10:32 IST
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Madrid: Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has said he is prepared to play in central defence if needed as Barca look to move one step closer to the Liga title with a win at Real Zaragoza on Sunday.

The Catalans progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League for a record sixth consecutive season on Wednesday night as they eliminated Paris Saint-Germain on away goals, but suffered another injury blow in defence as Adriano, who had just returned from a hamstring injury, was carried off in the second half.

With Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano already sidelined, playing the inexperienced Marc Bartra or moving Busquets back into the centre of the defence seem the only two options available to coach Tito Vilanova, but the Spanish international insists he would be comfortable in the back four.

"If I need to play at centre-back, I will do whatever is necessary for the team," he told Barca TV.

"We still have two league games before the semi-finals of the Champions League. If we can pick up six points in these two games in the league, we will take a huge step towards winning the title."

The Catalans were far from their best in midweek as they struggled without their talisman Lionel Messi, who started on the bench to protect a hamstring injury.

Messi, though, was required to turn the tie in Barca's favour in the second half as he came on to help set up Pedro's goal which took Vilanova's men through.

And with the Argentine likely to be rested on Sunday given Barca's 13-point advantage at the top of the table, Busquets admitted his presence will be sorely missed.

"It is clear that Messi is the best player in the world and when he is not there, you notice it," he added.

Zaragoza, meanwhile, are desperate for the points after a horrendous run of 14 games without a victory which has left them just a point above the relegation zone.

However, midfielder Victor Rodriguez believes they can take heart from their 1-1 draw against Real Madrid two weeks ago when they welcome the league leaders to La Romareda.

"You can't play the same way against Real Madrid and Barcelona because they play completely differently, but we need to play with the same attitude," said the 23-year-old former Barca youth-teamer.

Victor welcomed the fact that Messi is unlikely to be in the Barca squad and said gaining a positive result would be key for momentum heading into their huge relegation clash with Celta Vigo next weekend.

"It is a relief for everyone if Messi doesn't play because he is one of the best in the world.

"We need to take advantage of our chances and come out of the game with a good taste in our mouth to then go to Vigo with confidence."

However, Zaragoza have injury concerns of their own as their two top goalscorers Apono and Helder Postiga are both doubtful.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid face a tricky trip to Athletic Bilbao looking to extend their three-point gap over third-placed Atletico Madrid.

Jose Mourinho is expected to rotate his side after their exertions in also reaching the Champions League semi-finals with a 5-3 aggregate win over Galatasaray despite losing the second leg 3-2 in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso should return to the starting line-up after both were suspended for the game in Turkey, whilst Alvaro Arbeloa is expected to come in for the injured Michael Essien at right-back.

However, the game of the round is on Friday night as Sevilla and Real Betis clash in the Seville derby.

Sevilla hold the bragging rights having won the first clash between the two 5-1 earlier in the season, but a win for Betis would move them to within a point of the top four.

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