One of the main reasons for Barcelona’s recent success in El Clásico against Real Madrid has been Xavi Hernández’s decision to play Ronald Araujo at right-back to match up against one of Madrid’s danger man, Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior.
Araujo has had overwhelming success against Vinicius over the course of their many individual battles, and it’s been a big part of why Los Blancos struggle to consistently create dangerous attacks against Barça even in the games they have won in the last two years.
So it’s only natural to expect Xavi to revert back to the same formula when the two rivals meet on Sunday in the Spanish Super Cup Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Xavi was asked about the topic in his pre-match press conference on Saturday, but the coach decided not to comment and instead chose to praise Araujo’s abilities with the ball.
“I can’t give any clues about that because I’d be doing Ancelotti a favor. You’ll see tomorrow. Araujo is guaranteed to play well no matter where he plays, not only his defensive level but how much he’s improved with the ball, the way he can break lines and find the right passes. He has improved so much with the ball since we’ve been in charge.”
Source: Mundo Deportivo
Araujo’s improvements in possession are noteworthy indeed, but it’s what he does when Barça don’t have the ball that’s been a deciding factor in recent Clásicos. We all think he will indeed mark Vinicius again, but Xavi says we’ll have to wait until kickoff to find out for sure.