Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed he faces a dilemma at right-back when his side host Barcelona on Tuesday night (1 November), with both Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta sidelined due to injury. Hoewever, the Spanish boss is optimistic over the Premier League giants' chances of winning a crucial "final" to boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League last 16.
Sagna missed the 4-0 defeat the Nou Camp after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty with France earlier this month. Zabaleta himself was forced off during that game and has since missed the following three encounters with Southampton, Manchester United and WBA.
Guardiola switched to a 3-man defence during the draw against Southampton before handing a chance to 19-year-old Pablo Maffeo during the EFL Cup defeat to United. The Manchester City boss tried a new tactic against West Brom by deploying the versatile Fernando in the position. The latter decision paid off as City beat West Brom 4-0 without conceding a goal.
But Guardiola, who will be also without the suspended Claudio Bravo, has refused to confirm how he will address the right-back dilemma when Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar visit the Etihad Stadium.
"We have to think we've not got right-backs," Guardiola confirmed in a pre-match press conference. "We have one who recently played there and one who is 19.
However the manager refused to make excuses, as his Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique will also be without a number of key players in the shape of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu.
"They have some important players out and we have to learn from the first game," Guardiola said.
Guardiola hopes Manchester City can take advantage of those absences to secure a positive result against his former side.
"We will try," the former Barcelona manager said. "I have never thought that we can't win a football match and I never will. Even when we lost 4-0. It's difficult and we know we need to play almost perfectly to win – and if not, we will congratulate them and move on.
"Maybe we are going to change the way we press, our build up, control. I would like to play at a good level for 90 minutes."
City's hopes of qualifying for the last 16 hang in the balance after securing just a point in their last two Champions League fixtures against Barcelona and Celtic. They are currently second in Group C, just one point ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach.
"Hopefully our quality can make the difference tomorrow," he said. "For them it's not a final, for us it is like a final.
"There is just three games left. We dropped points in Glasgow and we have to recover those points."