Barcelona are running away with the La Liga title, having extended the gap between themselves and Real Madrid to nine points following their sixth 1-0 win of the year. Athletic Club’s attack, like most of their recent opponents, failed to cut open the Blaugrana’s defence.
Xavi has seemingly adopted an uncharacteristic approach to end Barcelona’s four-year wait for a league title. The side that in past years relied on the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez to blow away teams now look at their defenders to grind out results.
It’s working wonders – at least in domestic competitions – thanks to the individual brilliance of Marc-André ter Stegen and Ronald Araújo.
The latter, in particular, has been one of Xavi’s most important players, not just because of his quality but also his versatility. Araújo typically keeps forwards quiet from the heart of the defence, and has been key in helping Ter Stegen attain more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Real Madrid tried to sign Barcelona star before he moved to Spain
But against Real Madrid, Xavi uses his immense pace and physicality to keep Vinicius Jr. at arm’s length. Barcelona have beaten Real three times in their last four meetings, and Araújo’s defending against the Brazilian winger has been crucial in all the wins.
It has now emerged that, if things went as per Real Madrid’s plans, Araújo would’ve shared the dressing room with Vinicius instead of giving him a tough time during El Clasicos.
According to ESPN, Los Blancos tried to sign the Uruguayan defender before he moved to Camp Nou.
Things didn’t materialize and Araujo moved to Spain in the same summer as Vinicius, but at a different club. Barcelona managed to secure his transfer for an initial €1.7m, rising to over €4m, and added him to their reserve team in the Spanish third division. It’s only fair to say, both players have developed impressively well.