Barcelona are struggling to click in front of goal this season and a nagging injury to the playmaker Xavi leaves coach Pep Guardiola with a dilemma ahead of FC Copenhagen's visit for tonight's Champions League fixture.
The Danish champions are the runaway leaders in their domestic league, and lead Champions League Group D with two wins from two matches, while Barcelona sit second with four points after drawing 1-1 away to Rubin Kazan.
Although Barcelona stormed back to beat Valencia 2-1 at home in La Liga on Saturday, they have struggled to find the back of the net at the Nou Camp and a 2-0 defeat to promoted Hercules and a 1-1 draw with Real Mallorca there have raised eyebrows.
The Spain striker David Villa, a new signing for this season, has played a total of eight games and scored four goals but he has been guilty of some bad misses as Barcelona have failed to convert their overwhelming domination of possession into goals.
"It's all a question of runs of form, and when my luck changes we'll get the goals for Barcelona," Villa told the sports daily AS.
Xavi pulled out of Spain's recent Euro 2012 qualifiers to recover from pain in his Achilles tendon, and returned on Saturday when he set up goals for the midfielder Andres Iniesta and defender Carles Puyol. But after the game, in which he was substituted late on, Xavi admitted he was still suffering discomfort and Guardiola said he was not yet ready to play a game every three days. Xavi trained apart on Monday, and could sit out today's game, which may give Argentina's Javier Mascherano a chance for a rare start.
"Xavi is a very important player for this team, for the way that he plays," Mascherano told reporters on Monday. "I have not come to play because someone is injured. What I want is to help the team when the coach asks."
Copenhagen warmed up for tonight's match with a 5-0 demolition of OB Odense in the Danish league on Sunday, featuring a hat-trick from Cesar Santin. They top the standings, 12 points clear of second-placed Midtjylland, and have won both their Champions League matches, against Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos, without conceding a goal but their coach, Stale Solbakken, has been determined to prevent recent success going to his players' heads.
"It may well be that it is us – just like OB now – that sit in the losers' dressing room, having been taught a lesson by a team that is much, much better," Solbakken told daily newspaper Politiken.
The former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer, who is sure to be in the starting line-up tonight, said: "We must face it that Barcelona are several levels above us."
Santin was not expected to start, despite his hat-trick against OB on the weekend.Reuse content