Araújo leads a defensive Barça in a victory against Madrid

Barcelona built its reputation by dominating possession and relying on their attack against overwhelming opponents.

Araújo leads a defensive Barça in victory against Madrid
Araújo leads a defensive Barça in the victory against Madrid

But with their leading scorers out injured, Xavi Hernández had to look for a “Plan B” on Thursday against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

The plan worked – despite the formidable attack from the Merengues – and Barça had to rely on their defense to thwart their arch-rivals. The Catalan club got a 1-0 lead in the Copa del Rey semifinals.

“They take us to this match, we have not betrayed any game model” Xavi assured after the first leg. “The plan was to have long possessions, play in the opposite field, win duels to play more in Madrid’s field.”

Barcelona was without top scorer Robert Lewandowski, playmaker Pedri, and winger Ousmane Dembélé, who has 40 goals this season. Instead, he found his strength in defense led by a stellar Ronald Araújo and with strong performances from Jules Koundé, Marcos Alonso, and Alejandro Balde.

The only goal of the game came after Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga fumbled in midfield in the 26th minute.

Madrid’s potent attack, led by Karim Benzema and Vinícius Junior and who had crushed Liverpool 5-2 a week earlier, had plenty of time to respond, but Barcelona’s defense line held its own and did not allow their rival any goals. to goal.

“Today the midfielders have not had control of the game,” said Xavi. “We have suffered more than necessary, and we have had to run a lot, but we must appreciate the defensive work. Vinicius generates six chances per game, none today”.

To mark Vinícius, Xavi switched Araújo to the right of defense as in the 3-1 win over Madrid in the Super Cup final in January.

The result was the same: the Uruguayan succeeded where many others have failed.

Araújo emerged as one of the few players who can stop Vinícius. The Brazilian winger usually torments his opponents with his speed, dribbling, and unexpected flashes of him. Araújo matched it with his own pace and sense of anticipation. The duel seems to become a “classic” because Araújo is 23 years old and Vinícius 22.

The return duel will take place on April 5. Lewandowski, Pedri, and Dembélé will have enough time to recover from their injuries. But first, Barcelona and Madrid will face each other in the league at Camp Nou on March 19.

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