Four games into the 2023/24 season, Barcelona do not look nearly as stable defensively as last season. They have already conceded four goals, with three of them coming against Villarreal in a narrow 3-4 win at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Ronald Araujo’s absence makes up for a large part of this, though, as the Uruguayan is often regarded as the best defender in the team. He picked up an injury post the goalless draw against Getafe and has not participated in any of the three games since.
Araujo’s return imminent
Araujo is closing in on a return soon, though. Indeed, Javi Miguel of AS is claiming that the Uruguayan international is on the cusp of making his comeback after the injury layoff.
Indeed, it has been suggested that Araujo will receive his medical discharge next week, which comes as a big boost for Barcelona.
While he will certainly miss the weekend clash against Real Betis, he could be available against Royal Antwerp in the Champions League in midweek, although the club might not risk it. A full comeback is expected against Celta Vigo next weekend.
Shift in dynamics
Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde have picked up the slack in central defence in Araujo’s absence, but the former is expected to make his way onto the bench in Xavi’s ideal starting lineup, the report adds.
The back four will see loan signing Joao Cancelo take the spot at right-back, while Kounde and Araujo start as the centre-back duo. Alejandro Balde will continue as the left-back, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen the final piece of the defensive puzzle.
Christensen was an undisputed piece of Xavi’s quartet last season, starting alongside Araujo more often than not, with Kounde holding the width as an inverted right-back.
The Dane was rather unplayable alongside Araujo, too, with the duo playing 13 games together in the league, winning ten of those games, and losing only once. Further, the duo recorded eight clean sheets during that run and conceded a total of six goals.
Christensen has not been in as tremendous form this season, though, with Kounde nearly unplayable. Sergi Roberto was given the keys at right-back against Villarreal and Osasuna, but has been far from convincing.
Araujo’s return, thus, bodes well for Xavi and Barcelona.