Barcelona utility Sergio Busquets believes he is ready to step into the big shoes of captain Carles Puyol on Tuesday.
With Puyol and defensive partner Gerard Pique sidelined through injury and suspension respectively, the midfielder-cum-defender is likely to partner Gabriel Milito at the back for Barca when they host Arsenal in the second-leg of the Champions League round-of-16 clash.
Arsenal won the first leg 2-1 in London on February 16, but Busquets is confident his side can cope with the absentees to progress to the quarter-finals.
“Obviously we are missing two important players, and we had this situation last season in the same game. Pique and Puyol weren’t there, and everything went well,” Busquets said.
“I offer myself, and have already played as a centre back. Gabi Milito can also play there and we have more defenders. It is probable that I will play there.”
Busquets also spoke of his side’s desire to play and right the wrongs of the first leg, in which Barca conceded two goals in the last 15 minutes.
But he is not getting carried away with last year’s second-leg performance between the same two sides at the Nou Camp, when Barca won 4-1 to erase a first-leg 2-2 draw.
He said this year’s contest is a different match.
“The dressing room atmosphere is good. We are dying to play, we know that it is a very important game and that it is maybe the biggest game of the season,” he said.
“What happened last year is just statistics. This is a different game and we need to play well at home in front of our fans. Arsenal are one of the best counter-attacking teams, so they are very dangerous.”