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UEFA Champions League: Who Will Replace Gerard Pique For Barcelona Against Arsenal?

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The big man will be the big miss for the Blaugrana.

David Ramos/Getty Images

Gerard Pique is suspended for the Champions League match against Arsenal, in a tie which Barcelona lead 2-0 from the first leg. The player may have picked up the card on purpose to "clean his account" for the rest of the competition, which suggests a certain confidence about the result.

Still, while 2-0 is a good advantage to bring back home, it is not definitive. Pique is one of the essential pieces to Barcelona's puzzle, and arguably near irreplaceable considering their bench options. Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets may be the only two who are harder to replace.

With Pique absent, Barcelona lack their best player in the air and best passer from defense. Javier Mascherano is still likely to start this match, but who will hold down the other spot?

Jeremy Mathieu

The Frenchman is the favorite to start, with Mascherano moving from the left side to the right side. Mathieu is the team's second-tallest outfield player behind Pique, and the centerback to make the most starts after Pique and Mascherano.

While Mathieu has great top speed, he isn't the quickest or best-positioned, and  most worryingly, he can sometimes make mistakes on the ball. But he has his moments too, and Luis Enrique isn't shy about using him in the biggest of stages. He's played a part in all 3 Clasicos since his arrival to Barcelona, starting 2, and scoring one goal.

Thomas Vermaelen

The ex-Arsenal captain would love to show his old team he plays a substantial role in the success of his new team. This is effectively his first season at Camp Nou after missing out the vast majority of 2014-15 with an injury. He's had his moments in a Barcelona shirt, but he's not really convinced enough to unseat Mathieu.

Vermaelen has the experience to play this type of match in spades, but his lack of regular contribution makes him a big gamble.

Marc Bartra

The home-grown Bartra is a fan favorite, but he's yet to establish himself beyond a bit-part player. Bartra is Pique's most natural replacement, being that he plays on the right side and would not need to shift Mascherano over. He's also good on the ball and has a knack for going forward.

He may be the least physically imposing of the three, however, and his experience in big matches is limited. It's worth noting he played well last season against Paris Saint-Germain, though, and many fans will swear he just needs more chances.

For the moment however, it seems Luis Enrique trusts him the least of the three.