Marc-André ter Stegen, for his decisive stops both during the match and in the penalty shootout against Real Sociedad, and Riqui Puig, for marking the decisive throw and coming out of ostracism, were the two names for Barça who they monopolized all the headlines after overcoming the Super Cup semifinals. But in a choral sport such as football, other players, until recently almost unknown to the general public, also signed a notable performance. These are Ronald Araujo and Óscar Mingueza.
The Uruguayan center-back, who reached the semi-finals after suffering an overload in his hamstring muscles in his right thigh, started out as a partner with Clément Lenget. Araujo is demonstrating the qualities that the current technical secretary, Ramon Planes from Lleida, saw in him to insist on taking him to Barça. Planes already had the Uruguayan defender under control before entering work for Barça. He has been following the player since he saw him make his debut in the Second Division of Uruguayan football with CA Rentistas, when he was 17 years old. Araujo’s strength and mentality were key factors in capturing the attention of the technical secretary, who was convinced that the power station had to be taken to Barcelona, where the branch began to be set on fire. Real Madrid were also interested in him, but the white proposal came late, a few days before the final signing of Barça closed in exchange for 1.7 million euros more variable in August of the year 2018.
After the frustrated signing of Eric García at the gates of the closing of the last transfer market, the long-term loss of Gerard Piqué and the dubious physical condition of Samuel Umtiti have opened the doors of the first team to Araujo. The Uruguayan, who has 13 appearances this season (nine in the League, three in the Champions League and one in the Super Cup), has become the leader of the defense, even ahead of Clément Lenglet, who has had some ups and downs this course. Araujo has a black spot in his brief but promising history with the first team: the mistake he made in the draw against Eibar at the Camp Nou in the last game of 2020. After the match, the Uruguayan did not he hid and wanted to give his face: he explained that he cannot make mistakes like the one of that day, proving that wounds make him grow. Personality exercise at just 21 years old and a handful of matches with the Barça shirt.
Mingueza takes advantage of opportunities
In fact, if Araujo has not played more it is because he already suffered an injury that left him out of action for a month in November. This loss, together with the same conditions that catapulted the Uruguayan to the first team, gave the opportunity to add prominence to Mingueza, a footballer who has gone through all the categories of training football at La Masia. Although Mingueza is central, the injury of Sergi Roberto -who is expected to return between the end of January and the beginning of February- and the discomfort of Sergiño Dest have also opened the gap for him to add minutes as a right-back.
In fact, one of the first times Ronald Koeman saw Mingueza live playing an official match was on the first day of Group E of the Second Division B, at the Johan Cruyff Stadium, which pitted the subsidiary against Gimnàstic de Tarragona. In the season of its debut with the first equipment it accumulates the same participation that Araujo this course: 13 (nine in Liga, three in the Champions and one in the Supercopa). Although the Uruguayan has played more minutes: 1,013 against 905.
Whether out of urgency or necessity, both are counting on Ronald Koeman in a rejuvenated Barça. The team that in the duel against Bayern Munich in Lisbon was close to 30 years on average came out with an eleven against Real Sociedad that did not reach an average of 26 years.
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