He might not contribute significantly to possession play, but he could prove very useful by replicating the role Ezequiel Lavezzi played against Sergio Busquets in the quarter-final – occupy Busquets when Barcelona have the ball, sprint in behind when possession is won.That would leave Javi Martinez against Andres Iniesta, and Bastian Schweinsteiger against Xavi Hernandez.The advantage, of course, is that it’s less draining – and Barca haven’t suffered the dip in fitness levels that was evident in Guardiola’s final two seasons.
Although Guardiola often used Iniesta in the forward three for big matches like this, trying to bring more ball retention ability to the side, it’s difficult to see Vilanova doing the same here because of the problems between Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta against Milan.
Instead – assuming Lionel Messi is fit – he’ll probably play deeper than usual, almost as a number ten, to help overload Bayern.
Bayern front two v Barcelona defenders This is about who copes better with unavailable players.
Mandzukic and Kroos’ unavailability is a real shame for the tie as a whole, but Barcelona have a problem at centre-back with Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano out.
Ideally, Heynckes would have got numbers into the centre of the pitch with Kroos dropping deep from the number ten position, as he did brilliantly against Real Madrid last year, and Thomas Muller moving inside from the right.