Barcelona manager Xavi addressed defender Ronald Araujo’s absence from the 1-0 La Liga win over Sevilla at home on Saturday (September 29). He said Araujo was rested as precaution following his return from an injury layoff. The Uruguayan defender was sidelined after a leg injury sustained in mid-August.
The gaffer made multiple changes to the team that drew 2-2 at Mallorca in midweek. One of them was Araujo, who started the Mallorca game but didn’t feature against Sevilla.
In a hard-fought contest at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Barca’s temporary home for the season, Sergio Ramos’ 76th-minute own goal for Sevilla settled the contest. The Blaugrana didn’t seem to miss Araujo against Sevilla as the defending La Liga champions kept their fourth clean sheet in eight games this season.
Xavi later said in his post-match press conference (as per Barca Universal) that Araujo was absent due to game management, having recently returned from injury:
“Ronald Araujo was rested today. He’s coming back from an injury and we need him to stay fit.”
With the win – their sixth in eight league games this season – Barcelona have moved to the top of the standings. However, Girona and Real Madrid – who clash on Saturday – will reclaim top spot with a win.
Barcelona manager Xavi hails La Masia graduate Fermin Lopez
Fermin Lopez is another graduate from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy to have shone this season. The 20-year-old midfielder came on for the injured Raphina in the first half against Sevilla and dished out an impressive outing.
In 53 minutes of action, he had 47 touches of the ball, made three long balls, one cross, one key pass and a shot on target. He looked good to score off Lamine Yamal’s headed cut-back in the 76th minute, which Sergio Ramos turned into his own net.
Barcelona manager Xavi was understandably pleased with the young midfielder’s performance. The Spaniard hailed Lopez’s ability with both feet, shooting prowess from outside the box and dribbling, saying (as per aforementioned source):
“Fermin has played very well. He’s a top player. I hope he will be at the club for a very long time … He dominates both legs. He doesn’t lose balls.
“He has 1v1 dribbling. He can shoot from outside the box. He has many conditions to be a Barca player for many years. He’s very generous, and I’m so happy for him.”
The manager continued:
“If Fermin believes in himself, he can mark an era at Barca. He needs to believe that he’s a good player, that he can consistently put up good performances.”
In five games across competitions this season, Lopez has scored once.