After going down to Internazionale on Tuesday night in the Champions League first leg, Barcelona are faced with a new situation under Pep Guardiola.
Lionel Messi is surrounded by defenders
Amazingly, 3-1 is the biggest defeat of the Catalan coach's time at the helm of the azulgrana ship, and it is a less than ideal turn of events for a side running out of steam as tired legs take their toll. A bruising draw with Espanyol has quickly recompacted the league table, and the onus is on Barça to chase the game in the second leg against Jose Mourinho's men.
Barcelona took the bus to Italy in a volcano-enforced road trip, but Inter have the luxury of being able to park it at Camp Nou. A much more adventurous attacking side appeared at home to take advantage of Barça's lethargy, although Mourinho's tactics had an element of defence about them. Alves and Maxwell were -apart from in the build up to the opening goal- shut down by the trident strikeforce, and Zanetti did an inspired job of man-marking Messi. Inter may attempt another frantic opening 20 minutes of trying to grab an away goal, and then sit back and soak up the pressure.
Two tactics that I wouldn't repeat would be the use of Maxwell as a midfielder and Piqué as a striker. Both proved to be fish out of water when moved around on Tuesday.
The league hangs in the balance and, whatever the result at home, Madrid will be the fresher of the two sides heading into Jornada 35. Now is the time for character to shine through.