Barcelona succumbed to another defeat in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, with rivals Real Madrid booking their place in the showpiece finale.
Jose Mourinho's side played a near perfect game against the Catalan giants, and sent a message to the rest of the footballing world as they comfortably outplayed the team widely regarded as one of, if not the best team in the history of the game.
Real Madrid scored three goals that ended Barca's hopes of a spectacular treble, and further highlighted Tito Vilanova's side's Achilles heal.
Defence is Barcelona's problem position - in the past five years they have been able to hide their defensive frailties because no-one knew how to stop their passing style. Teams would be ripped to pieces and would not get the opportunity to test the defence.
Now teams have started to figure out ways to counter Barca's attacking threat, their defence has started to come under criticism in some quarters.
Gerard Pique is a world class player, but even he likes to attack. Dani Alves is an attacking full-back who sometimes forgets his defensive duties. Summer signing Jordi Alba is the same in that he is as effective going forward as he is in defence.
Carles Puyol, the heart and soul of Barcelona, has gone through so many injuries and with his age should not be starting these type of games. Barcelona require a younger, up and coming defender who can come in and take over from Puyol as the rock at the back.
Angel Di Maria exposed Puyol with Madrid's second goal of the night, further strengthening the claims that the 34-year-old's days are numbered.
Barcelona need to replace Puyol with a centre-back in the mould of Vincent Kompany - a ball-playing, tough-tackling defender with genuine leadership qualities. On the rare occasions that Barca's front line are nullified, they need to be able to rely on their defence to keep out the opposition.
The time is now for Barcelona to get a world class centre-back that can be groomed by Puyol and play alongside Pique to form a strong backline.
Whilst Puyol has to be commended for his achievements and leadership qualities at Barcelona, the club must preserve its future by acting now to bring in the Spanish internationals long-term successor.
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