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Injuries take spotlight with Barcelona and Arsenal

Injuries take spotlight with Barcelona and Arsenal

Arsenal will need to carry the momentum from last week's comeback draw against Barcelona to pull off a Champions League quarterfinal victory at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be forced to alter their starting lineups for the match because of injuries and suspension.
Barcelona is without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and center backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, while Arsenal is hurting even worse with a handful of starters missing, including Cesc Fabregas and Andrei Arshavin.
Following the 2-2 draw in the first leg, Arsenal will need to go for victory since the European champions hold the away-goal advantage.
"We will need all the spirit we have," Wenger said. "The problem we have at the moment is that we are short."
Both teams will take momentum from league wins on Saturday, with an under-strength Barcelona rolling over Athletic Bilbao 4-1 and Nicklas Bendtner's injury-time goal earning Arsenal a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But neither team will have as many players available as it would like.
Fabregas broke his leg scoring the equalizing penalty in the first leg, although the former Barcelona youth player would not have played in the return match anyway as he was suspended. Arsenal is also without Arshavin (calf), William Gallas (calf) and long-term injury Robin Van Persie.
Wenger said Samir Nasri will lead the offense, while Theo Walcott could play a big part after starting the Gunners' rally last time with a goal.
"Theo has a chance to start the game but he can as well come on again and make a difference," Wenger said. "If it is 0-0 with 20 minutes to go, we will need players who can make a difference."
Walcott appears to be Barcelona's most feared opponent.
"He's faster than our whole team put together," Guardiola said.
Ibrahimovic, who scored both goals at Arsenal, tore a muscle in his right calf, while Pique hurt his leg, although he was already suspended for the game alongside Puyol.
"For any team to be without their two central defenders, the two players who play week-in, week-out, you know they are people they build the team around and it is not good for them _ it is good for us," Bendtner said.
Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito, who hasn't started a Champions League match in nearly two years, are the most likely fill-ins, although midfielder Yaya Toure could play despite hurting his ankle against Athletic. Toure played at center back in Barcelona's Champions League and Copa del Rey final victories last season.
Barcelona's season mat be on the line this week. It plays at Real Madrid on Saturday in a match that could determine the Spanish league winner with both clubs even on points at the top of the standings.
"I'll go to the end of the world with this team," said Guardiola, who will also be without midfielder Andres Iniesta (leg).
Barcelona does have Lionel Messi back to his scoring ways after the Argentina winger netted for the first time in four games on Saturday for his league-leading 26th goal and 35th overall.
Guardiola may lean toward Bojan Krkic in place of Ibrahimovic instead of Thierry Henry.
Henry received renewed criticism over his lackluster campaign following his performance in last week's draw at the Emirates Stadium, while Krkic scored two goals against Athletic.
Messi and Krkic could exploit Arsenal's backline if 35-year-old Sol Campbell starts, with Gallas' likely replacement Alex Song uncertain over a groin injury. Arsenal's task is enormous _ Barcelona has outscored opponents 13-2 at the Camp Nou in four knockout round games under Guardiola, whose team thrives on pressure games.
"We arrive at the end of the season and every game is important. It's an authentic final," Guardiola said. "We should reach the (Santiago) Bernabeu as a semifinalist in the Champions League."