Barcelona secured victory over Villarreal on Sundya night, moving them 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, ahead of Los Blancos’ tie with Elche. It was Pedri who came up with the crucial moment of quality for their goal, however if Xavi Hernandez wants to direct his thanks to one player, it is Ronald Araujo.
The Uruguayan defender, finally fit again, was omnipresent at the back for Barcelona, intervening at the crucial moment almost every time Villarreal looked as if they might break through.
Ronald Araujo vs. Villareal. (A)
— َ (@_bigzeeeer) February 13, 2023
Andreas Christensen has come in for plenty of praise in recent weeks for his cool defending at the back, but at Estadio de la Ceramica, it was Araujo’s desire, commitment and competitive animal that saved the Blaugrana on multiple occasions.
Ronald Araujo was mammoth for Barcelona last night🦣
1 last man tackle
100% ground duels won (5/5)
80% aerial duels won (4/5)
2 fouls won
88% pass accuracy
100% long ball accuracy (2/2)
(via @SofascoreINT) pic.twitter.com/De7Gmtvbyx
— Football España (@footballespana_) February 13, 2023
Frequently celebrating his clearances and tackles, the evidence of his effectiveness could be seen on the face of Villarreal attacker Yeremy Pino, exasperated after being thwarted by Araujo on numerous occasions.
“Araujo is a beast,” Alejandro Balde told Sport.
“He is a certainty back and we are very happy to have him with us.”
Meanwhile manager Xavi Hernandez told Marca that he had improved more than anyone else in one aspect.
“He is an extraordinary defender, a great corrector. The one who has grown the most with the ball of the entire team.”