Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman offered an update on center-back Ronald Araujo’s fitness on Friday ahead of next week’s crucial Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
The Uruguay international is a major doubt for the match after suffering an ankle sprain against Real Betis but is reportedly keen to play and willing to take a risk by rushing back and taking on the French champions.
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Will Koeman Risk Araujo?
Koeman was asked about the possibility of risking Araujo against PSG in a pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s La Liga match at home to Alaves and offered his thoughts on the situation.
I don’t think we have to take risks because the objective is to recover our players from now on until the end of the season. If it’s the last game of the season one can risk more. But I don’t like to assume risks for just one game. These players have to recover well, no worries, and let’s see if they can be there but we have to go game by game.
The Barcelona boss certainly doesn’t sound too willing to take any risks with Araujo but hasn’t ruled the 21-year-old out of the game entirely. The Dutch coach was asked directly if Araujo would be fit to play against PSG and was pretty coy with his response.
Araujo is injured. If he can be available for Tuesday? We will talk to the staff but it’s important of course to know the risks for every single player and we don’t have to take a decision yet. He’s not available for tomorrow, we’ll see on Monday or Tuesday.
What is clear is that Araujo will miss Saturday’s La Liga clash against Alaves because of the injury. The game will also be too soon for Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto, although Koeman confirmed Miralem Pjanic, Sergino Dest, and Martin Braithwaite trained on Friday and could feature after injury.
Koeman Discusses Barca’s Defensive Deficiencies
There’s been plenty of focus on Barca’s defense this season after a series of high-profile errors that have proved costly, particularly in La Liga where the Catalan giants have slipped eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
6 – Barcelona have made more errors leading to goals than any other LaLiga team this season in all competitions: Neto Murara 🇧🇷, Marc-André ter Stegen 🇩🇪, Clément Lenglet 🇫🇷, Ronald Araujo 🇺🇾, Lionel Messi 🇦🇷 y Samuel Umtiti 🇫🇷. Risk. pic.twitter.com/MKMUUFjELi
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 3, 2021
Barcelona are currently on a run of five games without a clean sheet, and Koeman admits his team are leaking too many goals at the moment.
It’s true we’ve let in goals, at the same time we’ve created lots of chances, more than our rivals. We have to be more clinical and defend better. We have injured players and so a few players have played lots of games. It’s important to defend and be focused on the games. I’m not worried about that. I’d be worried if we didn’t create chances.
Koeman will hoping for a response from his side on Alaves after seeing his side beaten 2-0 in midweek in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at Sevilla. A win would extend Barca’s unbeaten run in La Liga to 12 games and send the team into Tuesday’s crunch clash with PSG in good shape.