While the victory against Valencia this Sunday brought FC Barcelona even closer to the league title, it was a costly victory that can have repercussions for the next league match, especially with Ronald Araujo’s suspension.
Ronald Araujo has been in spectacular form for Barcelona ever since he returned from injury. He and his colleagues in defense have been able to keep most teams at bay, and have conceded the least number of goals in the league. Thus, his absence in the next match will be felt even more keenly by Xavi and his team, but he has a number of options available to replace the suspended Uruguayan.
Xavi has already experimented with the center-back pairing a number of times this season. He has played Christensen with Eric Garcia five times, with Kounde three times, with Marcos Alonso two times, and one time with Pique.
Kounde has also played frequently in the central defense and has partnered in this area with Alonso in 4 games, and with Eric Garcia in 3 games, in addition to his 3 appearances with Christensen. Eric Garcia has played one game with Marcos Alonso and one with Gerard Pique as well, while Alonso also had 3 appearances alongside Pique, who has since retired.
While all these options are available for Xavi, the decision is complicated to some extent due to the situation at the right-back position, where both Kounde and Araujo have played frequently this season. Araujo had a great game against Real Madrid on the right flank, where he effectively contained Vinicius Junior.
Thus, Sergi Roberto could be the one playing on the flank this next match, with the backline being composed of Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, and Balde. On the other hand, if Kounde plays on the flank, Marcos Alonso can play in the center with Christensen, while Garcia’s chances of an appearance are significantly low.