The most successful team in the history of Copa America, Uruguay would look to leave a mark on Copa America 2021. The Uruguayans had a poor outing last time out where they lost on penalties to Peru. The only team with 15 titles in the competition’s history has a task cut when they face Argentina on the 18th of June. Óscar Tabárez’s squad has to take inspiration from the Uruguayan squad who went on to lift their 15th title in 2011.
— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) March 15, 2021
Quarter-finals are the maximum they have reached in recent years and have failed to secure a semi-final spot in recently concluded tournaments. In the 2018 World Cup, they were shown the door by eventual champions France where they lost 2-0. Tabarez has world-class strikers to trust but the defence has been the problem for his team recently. But he would be very confident of his defence going into this year’s South American competition.
One player who could lead them to glory and help them forget their quarter-finals woe is Barcelona defender, Ronald Araujo. The 22-year-old had made his international debut last year only but has shown promise while playing for the Catalans. And the fans would want him to step up at the international level too.
URUGUAY TO BARCELONA – JOURNEY
“My sending off wasn’t my fault. It was shoulder to shoulder. I won’t let it extinguish the joy of my first-team debut.”
– Ronald Araujo
This is what the 22-year-old youngster said when he was shown the red card after just 14 minutes into his debut. The man’s mindset has always been optimistic and he always knew his chance would come soon for his club.
— Ronald Araujo (@RonaldAraujo_4) October 5, 2020
And when the opportunity came knocking he grabbed it with both hands. FC Barcelona was demolished 8-2 last season by Champions League winners, Bayern Munich and everyone wondered what changes would they make to their defensive line. With the likes of Pique and Umtiti at the twilight of their careers, it was time for the new blood to step in
Goal Bayern Munich. Philippe Coutinho. 2-8.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 14, 2020
And one player who rose to the occasion was Barca-B center-back Ronald Araujo. The man who received a red card on debut has turned Barca’s defence on its head since he arrived at the Spanish club. It was evident that the senior players would make way for the youngsters and the 22-year-old has already left his mark for Barcelona.
The 6’1 centre-back blocks 2.21 shots almost every match. He has already bypassed veterans Varane and Sergio Ramos when it comes to tackling per 90 minutes. A team that was on the way to another horrific season, lifted the Copa Del Ray and is still in the reckoning to win the La Liga title. A team who has always expected their strikers to take centre-stage, Araujo has been in the spotlight for most of the season.
Uruguay has always been the birthplace of great defenders but has lately lagged quality in their defence. And Araujo could solve their problems going into Copa America. His partnership with Atletico Madrid defender, Jose Gimenez will be crucial if they want to lift silverware this summer.
What makes the centre-back special is his ability to not give up if the ball gets past him and is a brick wall in front of his goal. He’s a dominant figure on the pitch and rarely loses possession. Though he has just made one appearance for his international squad, a striker could rarely beat him in an aerial duel. Tabárez considers him a barrier in defence and Araujo won’t shy away from taking responsibility for his team.
— Ronald Araujo (@RonaldAraujo_4) October 6, 2020
He’s always seen defending on the front foot even if his team is attacking. The youngster is seen closing down his opponent in seconds and tries to play balls into the box instead of always playing it safe. The Barcelona defender can function equally well with both feet, allowing him to handle the football with ease and depict uncertainty in clutch areas.
The centre-back could link up with his midfield duo of Lucas Torriera and Federico Valverde as well as play long balls for Uruguay’s Poacher Luis Suarez.
His goal-scoring capability up the field is worth mentioning. In his 22 appearances for his club, the centre-back has already bagged 2 crucial goals and an assist. With his height, he will surely be present in the box whenever Uruguay is given a set-piece.
And heading the ball into the back of the net won’t be a problem for him. At an early age, he features in a very special lot. He’s one of the few defenders who have a hat-trick in their name.
The dominant figure is also a leader in defence. Whenever the shoulders have dropped, he has always been seen motivating his team and always has a trick left up his sleeve.
16TH TITLE LOADING
The South American carnival is inching closer day by day and Araujo could leave a significant mark for the Uruguayans. And with Suarez and Cavani looking to hang their boots soon, Araujo and his troops would look to give them a parting gift. Uruguay is placed in a very difficult group and Ronald Araujo has to look well-balanced right off the bat. Glory awaits the South American team and Araujo might play a crucial role if Tabarez’s army has to increase to their rich heritage of titles.