With Atletico Madrid on the horizon this Sunday, it is no surprise that Barcelona are rotating their side for their Copa del Rey third-round tie against CF Intercity. However it will allow Xavi Hernandez to give minutes to a number of players that could do with them.
“I have it clear already, but tomorrow you will see,” Xavi told the press in his pre-match conference. “The idea is to make rotations. Players who need minutes, like Ronald [Araujo] or Eric [Garcia].”
The Catalan central defender started of the season in excellent form, but has since fallen down the pecking order, starting just two of their last six La Liga games.
Of course the major story is the return of Araujo. The Uruguayan defender went to the World Cup with La Celeste after recovering from a tendon injury that required surgery. He was not deemed fit enough to participate though.
That injury was acquired on international duty in September, in a friendly with Iran, since which he has not played. If he plays against Intercity, it will be Araujo’s first action in over three months (102 days).
His manager highlighted all of the qualities that the Uruguayan’s return will bring back to Barcelona too.
“He has enormous footballing ability. A lot of leadership. A lot of soul and he’s a warrior. I think we need him. Hopefully he comes back as soon as possible to help the team.”
Araujo’s chequered injury history has become a major concern at Barcelona and no doubt Xavi will be careful about easing him back into action, even if he is ‘100%’ as Xavi put it.