Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has opened up on the improvements center-back Ronald Araujo has made to his game ahead of Thursday’s vital Europa League clash against Manchester United.
Araujo has become a vital player in defense for the Catalan giants, and the Barcelona boss has spoken previously about how he’s the player who has grown the most since he took over as manager of the club.
Xavi has now told a pre-match press conference ahead of the tie with United what advice he’s given to the young defender to help him to adapt to life at the Camp Nou and become one of the first names on his teamsheet, as reported by Sport.
“I have tried to get him to take risks, it is not his main quality,” he said. “When you dominate a situation, it gives you some uncertainty. We always want to play in the opposition half, if you see how he passes the ball, changes direction, he has improved a lot. He is confident, he feels strong, he is capable.”
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Araujo Part Of Brilliant Defense
Araujo is expected to start the game at Old Trafford and will come up against one of Europe’s most in-form forwards in Marcus Rashford. The Red Devil has scored 24 goals in all competitions and was on target in the 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Camp Nou.
Yet Barcelona boast an excellent defensive record this season. The 2-0 win over Cadiz last time out saw the team’s backline make history in La Liga, according to Opta.
Xavi’s side’s record of just seven goals conceded from 22 games is the best the Spanish top flight has ever seen at this stage of the season, beating the previous mark set by Deportivo La Coruna in 1993-94 and Atletico in 2017-18.
Araujo On Xavi’s Improvements
Araujo’s progress at Barcelona has already led to suggestions that he could one day become captain of the side. The defender has openly admitted it would be “tremendous” to wear the captain’s armband.
The defender has also spoken about how Xavi has improved Barcelona since replacing Ronald Koeman at the helm of the Catalan giants in an interview with EFE.
“With the arrival of Xavi I learned a lot more because he gave us back the Barça philosophy, which had been lost in recent years. I am the one who learned the most, but the team changed and it is being seen in the results,” he said. “Since Xavi arrived, we have been growing. He implemented all the things he wanted. In addition, we were able to have a good preseason and both technically and tactically we learned a lot defensively . Defense reinforcements arrived and that adds up a lot.”
Xavi has already lifted the Spanish Super Cup as Barcelona manager and is gunning for more trophies. The team is in good shape in La Liga, currently eight points clear at the top of the table, and will hope to progress in Europe by seeing off Manchester United.
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