Julian Araujo and Ronald Araujo Wiki, Biography
Barcelona will play Ronald Araujo as a makeshift right-back to contain Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford. The Red Devils are set to visit the Nou Camp on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League, with the return at Old Trafford seven days later.
Xavi Hernandez has used the same tactical plan in recent El Clasico fixtures to effectively subdue Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. The Uruguayan, 23, who usually starts as a center-back for the La Liga club, is expected to be positioned in a similar way, according to Diario AS.
Rashford has netted eight goals in nine league appearances for United and propelled Erik ten Hag’s side into third spot, five points behind leaders Arsenal and two behind local rivals Manchester City. Barcelona beat United in the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011 when Pep Guardiola got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Bryan Robson led a memorable fightback against the Catalans and Diego Maradona in the UEFA Cup-winners’ Cup quarter-finals in 1984 as United won 3-2 on aggregate at Old Trafford.
Ferguson lifted the same trophy in 1991 after Mark Hughes’s two goals in the final in Rotterdam secured a 2-1 win. A United side depleted by the three-foreigner rule suffered a humbling 4-0 defeat in Barcelona in 1994 as they failed to qualify from the Champions League group stage.
And on the way to United lifting the European Cup in 1999, there were two 3-3 draws in the group stage before they beat Bayern Munich in the final at the Nou Camp.
When Ferguson won the Champions League again in 2008, Paul Scholes scored the only goal in the semi-final to knock out Barcelona in what was United’s last win over their rivals. The most recent meeting ended in a 4-0 aggregate defeat for United in a 2019 Champions League quarter-final.
This was not Barca’s best performance of the season, but there was still plenty to like for coach Xavi Hernandez as his side opened up an 11-point lead at the top of the league. Real Madrid can cut the gap to eight if they win their game in hand against Elche on Wednesday, delayed due to their participation in the Club World Cup this week.
Pedri’s goal was enough to give Barca an eighth successive win in all competitions — their longest streak since October 2017 — but they could have already been ahead. They started the game full of intensity, pressing high and winning the ball back with great success. Lewandowski should have scored when one-on-one with Reina, but was denied. The Polish striker had another chance after Pedri’s goal but was again saved by Reina.
Villarreal, led by ex-Barca coach Quique Setien, grew into the game, though. Morales’ chance was their best of the first half but they were on top for large spells of the second half, which Xavi will not have liked so much.
Still, Barca has conceded just seven league goals in 21 games for a reason this season, and center-backs Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen once again rose to the challenge.
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