Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has been touted by some as the world's premier centre-back.

After Barcelona had beaten Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League, many were left wondering why Sir Alex Ferguson had sold Pique but retained the services of Jonny Evans.

But as Evans blossoms into a reliable centre-back at Manchester United, Pique, on the other hand, is finding it increasingly difficult to deal with quality opposition.

It would be preposterous to say that Pique is a bad player, he quite clearly is not. He is fantastic on the ball and when Barca are pressing and dominating play he fits in well with their system and often starts attacks for them.

He is, however, an average defender - and when faced with Didier Drogba last season in the Champions League he was bullied off the ball and dominated physically. This happened once again last night in the Champions League semi-final, where he was well out of his depth and unable to deal with the drive and directness of a Bayern Munich side playing with a freedom rarely seen from an away team at the Camp Nou.

His night was topped off with a calamitous own goal which saw his side go down 2-0.

Pep Guardiola often left Pique out of the starting 11 and it looks like Tito Vilanova could follow suit, with Sky Sports reporting that Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels is eager to join the Catalan club next year.

Last night's tie told us two things: Barca need Lionel Messi and secondly they need to re-shape and reinvigorate a back line which has been dragged through mediocracy by, probably, the best midfield and attack the modern game has ever seen.

Now, however, times have changed - and as the competition increases evermore, the need for Barca to improve in this area is unequivocal.

 

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Gerard Pique