Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona's potent attack garners the majority of the headlines throughout the season, rarely leaving the club's defense to get the recognition it should.
Even while the Catalans have deployed a makeshift back line throughout the course of the season, they have conceded just 33 goals in 31 La Liga matches.
For some time, Barcelona has gotten by with filling key defensive holes with converted midfielders in Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets.
Now, the lack of depth at the back finally has presented the club with a problem. Injuries to Mascherano and Carles Puyol mean that Barcelona's defense will be put to the test when it hosts Levante at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Filling in at the heart of the defense is likely to be Marc Bartra, who has started Barcelona's last three league matches. He also looks likely to get the nod when Champions League action resumes Tuesday as Adriano has been ruled out of the club's clash at Bayern Munich through suspension.
Bartra has pledged to make the most of the opportunity as the club continues its march toward the La Liga title.
"When there are difficult games you try to give your best," Bartra said in a press conference on Thursday. "I have spent the whole season preparing for when my moment came. I will try to do my best. Physically I am good and every time I play I feel better."
Barcelona comes into the weekend enjoying a 14-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table. The Catalans need just three more wins to clinch the title, assuming that Real Madrid takes maximum points from its last seven league contests.
Levante does not have much to play for in the final stretch of the season. The club sits 13 points clear of the relegation zone but 14 points adrift of a Champions League qualification spot. Pride will be on the line at Camp Nou for the Granotes as they hope to snap a two-game slide.
Real Madrid will be hopeful or keeping its title hopes alive on Saturday when it welcomes Real Betis to the Bernabeu. While Madrid's title chances are slim, Betis remains in contention for a Champions League qualification spot. The club enters the weekend in seventh place, six points shy of fourth-place Real Sociedad.
La Real will be in action on Sunday as the club will attempt to strengthen its bid for a top four finish with a positive result against Osasuna at El Sadar.
Malaga and Valencia also are vying for fourth place. The two clubs are level on 50 points and will do battle in a massive clash at the Mestalla on Saturday.
Granada welcomes Valladolid to the Los Carmenes in Saturday's early La Liga fixture, while league action resumes Sunday with Getafe hosting Espanyol at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Deportivo facing Athletic Bilbao at the Riazor and Atletico Madrid heading to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to face Sevilla.
Monday's lone match is a relegation "six-pointer" that pits Celta Vigo against Real Zaragoza at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos, while Friday's action saw Mallorca play to a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano.