Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman offered an update on center-back Ronald Araujo’s return from injury ahead of crunch games against Sevilla in La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
The Uruguay international has been out of action since suffering a sprained ankle against Real Betis on February 7. Barca play Elche on Wednesday in La Liga and Koeman told a pre-match press conference that the defender will not be fit for the match.
He’s getting better. He won’t be with us tomorrow because he hasn’t trained with us yet. He’s training by himself right now with our physios but first, he has to train with the group to see if he’s 100 percent or not. Right now there are some doubts, so we have to wait. We wait for the weekend, maybe next Wednesday. I don’t think it’s good to have an exact date.
Barca head into a double-header against Sevilla after Wednesday’s match. The Catalan giants head to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Saturday to face a team currently one point above them in the league.
The match is followed by Sevilla’s trip to the Camp Nou on March 3 for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Julen Lopetegui’s side won the first leg 2-0, meaning Barca need a big comeback to make it through to the final.
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Lenglet Struggling After Latest Error
Koeman will be keen to have Araujo back as soon as possible. The 21-year-old has emerged as a key figure in defense this season in what’s been a troubled campaign for the Barca backline that has been plagued by individual errors.
Center-back Clement Lenglet conceded a late penalty during Sunday’s match against Cadiz which allowed the visitors to snatch a 1-1 draw. The Frenchman was spotted looking visibly distraught afterwards, and Koeman admits he’s finding it difficult to accept.
I spoke to him this morning. Of course, he’s a very serious player, he’s a professional, who has taken this very personally. Like I said before, it’s not down to one player that we’re dropping points. He could have done better and yes, there have been moments where we’ve made mistakes because of other players, but in attack we made mistakes and could have scored more goals.
Koeman was also asked if Lenglet would keep his place in the starting XI for Wednesday’s match against Elche but gave little away. He replied, “we need to find the best solution for tomorrow’s game.”
Araujo Back For Sevilla?
Koeman won’t want to rush Araujo back but could have him available as a substitute for Saturday’s league encounter, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Roger Torello. The Uruguayan may then be in a position to start the decisive Copa del Rey semi-final match.
The Barca boss does have other options such as Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and Oscar Minguez but could opt for a central defensive partnership of Gerard Pique and Araujo against Sevilla, according to Torello.
Barca will know they can’t afford to make any mistakes at the back as they are already 2-0 down in the tie and must try to break down a formidable defense. Sevilla have conceded only 16 goals in 23 La Liga games and have kept clean sheets in eight of their last nine games in all competitions.
The Catalan giants can take some comfort from Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League encounter against Sevilla. The Bundesliga giants ran out 3-2 winners at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán which may offer hope the Sevilla defense can be breached.