Barcelona are basing their league challenge of their incredible defensive record currently, having conceded just 8 goals in La Liga all season. Remarkably, just one of those have come at Camp Nou (a Joselu Mato penalty for Espanyol), with the last goal from open play being conceded in May last year. Comically, some of the credit is due to Sergio Ramos.
The Blaugrana are in thrall to their Uruguayan Ronald Araujo, who continues to be the standout for Barcelona in 2023. The mammoth central defender is now solving all problems for Xavi Hernandez, shutting down the biggest threats of the opposition each week.
However he wasn’t always seen as a top defender. As per Marca, Araujo was turned down by Uruguayan giants Penarol at the age of 9, before going back to his hometown to try again as a footballer. Making his debut 16, Araujo went on to sign for Barcelona at 18, going into the Barca Atletic side. A number of other clubs, including Real Madrid were interested in him, but the Blaugrana took the plunge.
When he did arrive at Barcelona, he had plenty to work on – Xavi Hernandez has referred to him as his most improved player. Few would have expected the way in which he was instructed to do so. The Barcelona coaches advised him to watch Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos in order to improve, particularly in relation to his heading of the ball.
Few are or were better that attacking the ball than Ramos, something Araujo has incorporated into his own game. The fact it is Araujo who Barcelona send forward when desperately in need of a goal is testament to that fact.
While many in Barcelona are not fans of Ramos, it goes to show that even within the coaching staff there, there is an appreciation of his qualities. The Paris Saint-Germain defender has defined the 2010s with his leaping headers and heroic defending over the years.