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Xavi could make major tweak in Barcelona defence vs Napoli to neutralise the threat of Kvaratskhelia

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Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

In around 12 hours, Barcelona will face off against Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 contest.

Given the turmoil that Napoli find themselves in currently, Barcelona go into the game as favourites despite the fact that Xavi Hernandez & co. have not been at their best either.

However, the Catalans will have to watch out for Napoli’s danger-man, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has the ability to change the game on its head at any moment.

The Georgian winger has not been as successful as he was last season, but still poses a huge threat on the left flank with his pace, trickery on the ball, and ability to score goals – something that has put him on Barcelona’s radar.

Xavi could start Araujo at right-back, bench Kounde

As such, Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Barcelona manager Xavi could make a tweak in his defensive line to quell the threat of Kvaratskhelia.

Indeed, Xavi is seriously considering the idea of deploying Ronald Araujo at right-back to stop the Napoli winger.

Araujo at right-back vs Napoli? (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The Uruguayan has been used as a right-back regularly in El Clasico encounters by Xavi to keep a lid on Vinicius Jr. and he is now mulling over using the same tactic to shut down Kvaratskhelia tonight at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

It would necessitate a change of personnel in defence, with the report suggesting that Xavi could bench Jules Kounde and decide to go with Araujo at right-back while Pau Cubarsi and Inigo Martinez pair up in central defence.

Handing a 17-year-old defender his first-ever European start in such a high-profile encounter could be a risky manoeuvre, but it is something that Xavi is considering at this point.

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