March 31, 2023
Ancelotti bets on Vinicius to escape Araujo's chains

Ancelotti bets on Vinicius to escape Araujo’s chains

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti backed winger Vinicius Junior to escape Ronald Araujo’s shackles when the Whites take on Barcelona on Sunday in La Liga Clásico.

The Brazilian winger, key for Madrid this season, has been shut down by Barça defender Araujo in recent clashes with the Catalans, and coach Xavi Hernández deployed the right-central to face him directly.

Vinicius has scored twice in 12 games against Barcelona, ​​both times before Araujo started at right-back.

No player has scored in open play against leaders Barca at the Camp Nou in La Liga this season, giving champions Madrid a formidable task as they try to reduce their nine-point deficit.

“He has had more difficulties than in other games, but Vini is always Vini, his mobility can help him get the best (of himself) in tomorrow’s game,” Ancelotti said at a press conference on Saturday.

“I’m thinking of putting him on the right, let’s see. He can play on the right, Vinicius”.

Ancelotti later said he was joking about using Vinicius on the right flank, but reiterated that the striker could have more freedom to veer off the left.

“Obviously that wasn’t serious, but mobility could be important, not having a fixed reference point. Generally speaking, against a striker that’s another problem for a defense.”

“Vini will play on the left, with more mobility.”

Xavi was also looking forward to the battle between Araujo and Vinicius.

“Araujo is very strong physically, he is quick, fast and he understands his opponents’ movements,” Xavi told reporters on Saturday.

“He is responsible, and a leader. He is a world class defender, one of the best in the world. Having Ronald in the team is a guarantee, an advantage.

“Usually when he faces Vinicius he comes out as the winner of the battle, but Vinicius can make a big difference.

“It’s not just Ronald, it’s (everyone) watching, and collectively, we’ve been very good against Madrid.”

Xavi said he was looking forward to training in the Clásico at the Camp Nou for the first time, as all of his previous clashes with Madrid took place away from home.

“I’m very motivated, you know I’m a big Barca fan, these games cheer me up,” Xavi added. “It’s my first Clásico at the Camp Nou (as coach), I’m excited, I’m motivated.”

– Barcelona defensive –

Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in early March in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Santiago Bernabéu.

The visitors delivered a master class in defending while Madrid had more of the ball, earning Xavi some criticism for betraying the club’s preferred possession style of football.

Barcelona were without several key players for that game, including Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele, the latter two of whom are still out for Sunday’s derby.

The league leaders have also won 1-0 in the top flight nine times this season, keeping 19 clean sheets in 25 games.

Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone even mocked Xavi, noting that some “lovers of the beautiful game” can now be heard saying that 1-0 is an attractive score.

The Barcelona manager responded by saying that while he respected his Atlético counterpart, winning by one goal in El Clásico would be a “wonderful” result.

“What’s the problem with 1-0? Barcelona won their first European Cup (in 1992) with (Ronald) Koeman’s goal, 1-0, and nobody said anything,” Xavi added.

“I would prefer a 4-0, a 5-4, but it’s difficult to score goals, people defend well, people who haven’t played don’t understand it. Winning 1-0 is a wonderful result”.


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