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Goal.com assesses Barca's bench...

Despite the best efforts of Arsenal, Barcelona’s incredible side marched forward to the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday evening, and reinvigorated hopes of a second Triplete within the space of three seasons.

Precedent has revealed that, at this stage of the campaign, coach Pep Guardiola has been forced to rely on the fringe members of his squad in order to combat the travails of challenging on three fronts.

Sunday’s fixture sees the Blaugrana take on Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a fixture that 10 months ago was decided by the brilliance of Bojan, who turned in a man-of-the-match performance as the Camp Nou giants clinched the title. But can Guardiola maintain a similar confidence in his current batch of replacements? Goal.com assesses Barca’s bench.

Bojan
Appearances 21
Starts 5
Goals 3

The 20-year-old unquestionably divides opinion, but even his staunchest defenders cannot deny that the 2010-11 season has been a monumental failure for the man deemed to be a staple of the Barca frontline for years to come. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed for Milan, Bojan was handed the fabled No. 9 jersey, but he has toiled in the shadow of luminaries such as Samuel Eto’o, who adorned the number before him.

Although appearances have been limited to cameo roles from the bench, the Spanish international has unequivocally failed to be the necessary replacement across the front three that Guardiola covets. He has been handed a contract extension until 2015, but his future at the club remains uncertain, and at a time when his coach needs a rotation of his strikers, Bojan has failed to convince that he can fulfil the role.

Jeffren
Appearances
3
Starts
0
Goals
1

The winger will never forget his icing on the cake that was the fifth goal in the sensational win over Real Madrid in November, but the promising 23-year-old's season has been blighted by injury.

He produced a pivotal contribution at the end of the 2009-10 campaign, netting in the wins over Athletic Bilbao and Xerez as the title drew near, and could have taken a more pronounced role had his shoulder problems not occured. However, his unpredictability could prove a useful asset in the run-in, and Guardiola may utilise his adeptness as an impact substitute.

           Ibrahim Afellay
Appearances
7
Starts
1
Goals
0

A January recruit, the former PSV attacker has had precious little time to prove himself, but may become influential in the coming weeks.

His single start ended acromoniously, removed at half-time in the 1-1 draw against Sporting, but the Dutchman is still finding his feet at the grand stage that is the Camp Nou, and his record precedes him. However, in the midst of the fixture congestion that is about to strike, Guardiola will need him to justify his January transfer.

         Thiago Alcantara
Appearances
6
Starts
0
Goals
0

The talented midfielder is held in high regard in Catalunya, with his confidence and assurance in possession earmarking him as a first team regular of the future.

However, his participation in Guardiola's squad has proven to be limited, despite the lack of depth available. The 19-year-old has spent the majority of the season with the 'B' team, and may be required for senior duties as the season continues. A player with limitless potential, but has been held in reserve so far by Guardiola.

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