Barcelona won’t risk key defender Ronald Araujo for this week’s opening Champions League group game against Royal Antwerp, coach Xavi has decided.
Araujo hasn’t played since the opening game of the season – when Barca drew 0-0 with Getafe in La Liga – because of a muscle injury suffered in training a few days later.
The Uruguayan was back in training on Sunday and Monday, with hope that he could be back on the pitch for the game against Antwerp at the Lluis Companys in Montjuic.
Xavi has confirmed that although possible, the possible risk outweighed the reward in this instance.
“We could have forced it but, by feeling, it wasn’t worth it,” he said with regards to Araujo.
The likelihood now is that Araujo, with a full week of training, will make his comeback at the weekend instead when Barca face Celta Vigo in La Liga.
Ronald Araujo will wait a little longer / Eric Alonso/GettyImages
The Antwerp game is a significant test for Barcelona because of what it represents after crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage in each of the last two seasons.
“We are excited to take a step forward this year,” Xavi said.
“The players are motivated, but we cannot become obsessed. We have to transfer what we did on Saturday [5-0 vs Real Betis] to this competition.
“This is a process. In my first year, we couldn’t compete. Last year we were able to compete. This year should give us the chance to compete and have results. But we have to be ourselves.
“We have a squad to compete in Europe, but we have to prove it. You have to compete and fight for it. The goal is to get through the group and then we’ll talk. But we have to be in the last 16 pot.”