Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti backed winger Vinicius Junior to escape the shackles of Ronald Araujo when Los Blancos meet Barcelona in Sunday’s La Liga Clasico.
The Brazilian winger, key to Madrid this season, was knocked out by Barca defender Araujo in recent clashes with the Catalans, with coach Xavi Hernandez using the right-back centre-back to confront him directly.
Vinicius has scored twice in 12 games against Barcelona, both times before Araujo started at right-back.
No player has scored from open play against leaders Barca at the Camp Nou in La Liga this season, giving champions Madrid a daunting task as they try to close their nine-point deficit.
“He had more difficulties than in other games, but Vini is always Vini, his mobility can help him bring out the best (of himself) in tomorrow’s game,” Ancelotti said at a press conference on Saturday.
“I’m thinking about putting him on the right side, let’s see. He can play on the right flank, Vinicius.”
Ancelotti later said he joked about the use of Vinicius on the right, but reiterated that the striker could be given more freedom to drift off the left.
“Of course it wasn’t a bad thing, but mobility could be important when you don’t have a fixed reference point. Generally speaking, against a striker, that’s another problem for a defence.”
“Vini will play on the left, with more mobility.”
Xavi was also looking forward to the fight between Araujo and Vinicius.
“Araujo is physically very strong, he is fast, quick and understands his opponents’ movements,” Xavi told reporters on Saturday.
“He is responsible and a leader. He’s a world-class defender, one of the best in the world. Having Ronald on the team is a guarantee, an advantage.
“When he goes up against Vinicius, he usually emerges victorious from the battle, but Vinicius can make a big difference.
“It’s not just Ronald, it’s (everyone) paying attention and together we were very good against Madrid.”
Xavi said he’s looking forward to training at the Camp Nou for the first time in Clasico as his previous clashes with Madrid have all been away.
“I’m very motivated, you know, I’m a big Barca fan, these games get me going,” added Xavi. “It’s my first Clasico at the Camp Nou (as a manager), I’m excited, I’m motivated.”
– Defensive Barça –
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in early March.
The visitors showed a defensive masterclass while Madrid enjoyed more possession, which drew some criticism from Xavi for revealing the club’s preferred style of possession.
Barcelona were without several key players for this game, including Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele – the latter two still missing for Sunday’s derby.
The league leaders have also gone 1-0 in the top flight nine times this season and kept 19 clean sheets in 25 games.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone even had a dig at Xavi, noting that some ‘beautiful game lovers’ can now say the 1-0 is an attractive result.
The Barcelona manager replied that while he would respect his Atletico counterpart, a one-goal win in the Clasico would be a “wonderful” result.
“What’s the problem with 1-0? Barcelona won their first European Cup (1992) with (Ronald) Koeman’s goal, 1-0 and nobody said anything,” added Xavi.
“I would prefer a 4-0, a 5-4, but it’s hard to score goals, people defend well, people who haven’t played the game can’t understand it. A 1-0 win is a wonderful result.”
Source : sports.yahoo.com