Barcelona’s Uruguayan center-back Ronald Araujo played all 120 minutes of his team’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Real Madrid just days after going under the knife after suffering a serious injury.
The defender underwent successful surgery five days before the Clasico clash on Wednesday, 12 January after fracturing the second and third metacarpals in his hand in the Copa del Rey win over Linares Deportivo.
Araujo was named in the starting XI by coach Xavi alongside Gerard Pique in central defense and played with a protective splint. Reporter Fabrizio Romano has now revealed how Araujo had two screws in his hand from his operation and also showed off his scars.
The 22-year-old showed no ill-effects from his surgery in what was a strong performance from the Catalan giants despite eventually being beaten 3-2 by Los Blancos after extra time.
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Araujo Hails Barcelona’s Progress Under Xavi
Araujo spoke to reporters after the Clasico in Saudi Arabia and hailed the team’s progress under new coach Xavi. Barca had more possession (53%) than their rivals and also had more shots on target throughout the game.
The defender said the team’s performance was evidence Barcelona are growing under Xavi and he believes they can now compete with any team, as reported by Diario Sport.
“We have to correct some things but I am happy with what we’re doing. We knew they would wait and counter, that we couldn’t lose easy balls. It’s a shame to not reach the final,” he said. “We’re growing. You can see the fruit of our work. A month ago it seemed a long way away, but now it’s close. We can fight against any team.”
Defeat means Barcelona now head home to prepare for their next game which is a Copa del Rey last 16 clash against Athletic Club. Real Madrid go on to the Spanish Super Cup final and will play either Athletic or Atletico Madrid.
Clasico Win ‘Was There For The Taking’ – Xavi
Xavi also offered his thoughts on the match and was disappointed to see his team beaten. Barca twice came from behind, with Luuk de Jong and the returning Ansu Fati on target, before eventually going down to Fede Valverde’s extra-time winner.
The Barcelona boss made his frustrations clear at his post-match press conference but still feels the match is a step forward for his young side, as reported by ESPN.
“I am sad and angry because the game was there for the taking for us,” he said. “We played with a complex in the first 20 minutes, but we got over that. It was a day to be brave. This Barca side can compete against anyone. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was still a step forward. The feelings are contradictory because we could almost touch the win. I’m sad because it’s a Clasico defeat and we miss out on a trophy, but we dominated Madrid for large spells.”
The result will hurt Barcelona but there were still plenty of positives for the Catalans, not least the return of talented youngsters Pedri and Ansu Fati from injury and a debut for new signing Ferran Torres.