As the clash between FC Barcelona and Manchester United draws nearer, the play-off round opponents in the UEFA Europa League have already begun preparations and planned contingencies for their respective opponents up next. As recent reports suggest though, Xavi Hernandez has a particular defensive tweak he may implement against one of United’s most potent threats.
Marcus Rashford is arguably Manchester United’s main goal-scoring threat as of right now, as well as their most in-form player at this moment in time. The Englishman is a lethal finisher that has seemingly found his groove under manager Erik Ten Hag’s tutelage and tactical setup. A player that always possessed high levels of talent but was unable to live up to his expected potential, he now becomes their leading man when the need to score goals arrives.
To curb such a threat is usually always a tall ask. Yet, as a particular defender has shown time and time again when tasked with stopping such threats, namely Real Madrid’s ever-so-dangerous Brazilian Vinicius Jr, it can be made an accessible objective if a player possesses such drastically vast defensive capabilities and qualities. The defender in question is none other than FC Barcelona’s Uruguayan warrior, Ronald Araujo.
As is reported by AS, Xavi plans on deploying Araujo as a contingency and blockade in the path of Marcus Rashford when the game arrives. This most definitely does not mean that the Uruguayan national will be drifting to the flanks of the defense in case his English target remains deployed there but instead will be tasked with paying special attention as to stop the United forward from getting into any dangerous positions or receiving offensively advantageous passes.
This may be effective as Rashford seems to love this rather free-roam role he’s been awarded, being able to drift both to the center of the field as well as alternate flanks when needed. This is where Araujo will be tasked with keeping special vigilance on the forward, particularly when he tries to prioritize an attack through the central channels.
FC Barcelona will face Manchester United on Thursday, the 16th of February, 2023, with the kickoff scheduled for 06:45 pm CET. The first leg is set to take place at the Spotify Camp Nou, in what is sure to be an exciting European clash.