Barcelona have been handed good news on the injury front with center-back Ronald Araujo closing in on a return to first-team action after suffering a sprained ankle.
The Uruguay international has missed Barcelona’s last three matches, against Sevilla, Alaves and Paris Saint-Germain, because of the injury and will also sit out Sunday’s La Liga clash against Cadiz at the Camp Nou.
However, Araujo could return to first-team action next week and is expected to be back in the squad either for Barca’s match against Elche at the Camp Nou on Wednesday or for the game against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium on Saturday.
Araujo is “ready” to return but manager Ronald Koeman wants to be patient and is not willing to take any risks as the center-back has become a crucial part of the team this season, as reported by Sport’s Francesc J. Gimano.
Indeed Koeman wants Araujo to be “physically at his best” when he does return and is keen for the youngster to “get in tune in the coming days” so he does not suffer any further injury setbacks ahead of the business end of the season.
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Barca’s Defensive Injuries Ease
Araujo’s return will mean Koeman has plenty of options in defense with Gerard Pique also back after three months out with knee trouble. The 34-year-old made his comeback in Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Koeman also has center-backs Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, and Oscar Mingueza available, meaning he now has options at the back and will need to and find out his best center-back pairing.
The backline has been Barca’s undoing this season and remains vulnerable to pace, as highlighted in midweek when Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick in PSG’s victory at the Camp Nou.
Araujo is no slouch and has arguably been Barca’s most reliable defender this season when fit. The Uruguayan may go straight back into the team, but it remains to be seen who will partner the 21-year-old.
Koeman will certainly be hoping Barca can tighten up at the back now their injury problems have eased. The Catalan giants are currently on a run of seven games without a clean sheet in all competitions.
Barca In Need of Boost
Barcelona return to action on Sunday at home to Cadiz and will be in need of a boost after defeat to PSG left their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread once again.
Koeman’s side will also be out for revenge after suffering a shock loss to Cadiz in December, going down 2-1 at the Estadio Ramón de Carranza, but will be favorites for all three points. Álvaro Cervera’s men are on a poor run of form and sit just three points above the relegation zone.
Indeed Cadiz have lost their last four matches in a row, conceding 15 goals in the process, and may not be relishing a trip to the Camp Nou to face a wounded Barcelona side.