FC Barcelona need to devise a plan to stop Vinicius Jr when they meet Real Madrid in a Spanish Super Cup final installment of El Clasico on Sunday.
The two La Liga giants meet in Riyadh tomorrow, after scraping past Valencia and Real Betis respectively in penalty shootouts midweek.
Even though the scorer of the winner last year’s Champions League final against Liverpool is out of sorts in recent weeks following World Cup last eight disappointment with Brazil in Qatar, Vinicius Jr still poses a threat to any opponent and Xavi Hernandez must find ways to stop him.
With Sergino Dest having left to AC Milan on loan, Xavi doesn’t have many natural right backs at his disposal.
Sent to the stands ahead of the win over Betis, Hector Bellerin, as SPORT point out on Saturday, is practically an afterthought with his struggles against Bayern Munich suggesting he might not be cut out for the elite.
Sergi Roberto has a good chance to start as seen against the Andalusians last time out, but who is more probable to get the nod is stalwart center back Ronald Araujo.
According to AS‘ Javier Miguel, the move is a certainty.
Araujo has previous with the assignment following Xavi putting his faith in him for the now fabled 4-0 win at the Bernabeu in March 2022.
The Uruguayan kept his Brazilian rival at bay with ease, and did likewise in a Las Vegas Clasico in preseason as both teams toured the United States in the summer.
If Araujo isn’t deployed at right back to contain the left winger, it is highly likely that Jules Kounde will be.
The ex-Sevilla star played the position in the World Cup with France, helping his country reach the final where they lost to Lionel Messi’s Argentina on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw through regular and extra time.
Though he is a natural center back who should one day pair Araujo in the heart of defense, Kounde has often been used there by Xavi and was oustanding in last Sunday’s meeting with Atletico Madrid where a clean sheet and 1-0 win saw Barca extend their lead over Real Madrid to three points at the La Liga summit.