Carlo Ancelotti backs Vinicius Junior to shine for Real Madrid against Barcelona

Los Blancos trail their clasico rivals by nine points ahead of Sunday's encounter at Camp Nou

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti believes Vinicius Junior could have a big impact on Sunday's clasico against Barcelona. AFP
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Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is backing Vinicius Junior to unlock Barcelona's rock solid defence in the clasico on Sunday.

No player has scored from open play against leaders Barca at Camp Nou in La Liga this season, giving the champions a formidable task as they try to reduce the nine-point deficit between the Spanish giants.

But Ancelotti believes his Brazilian star can escape Ronald Araujo's shackles and give Los Blancos a fighting chance.

Vinicius has scored only twice in 12 games against Barca, both times before they started using Araujo at right-back.

"He's had more difficulties than in other games, but Vini is always Vini, his mobility can help him get best (from himself)," Ancelotti told a news conference."

'Mobility could be important, not having a fixed reference point. Speaking generally, against a forward that's another problem for a defence.

"Vini will play on the left, with more mobility."

Barca coach Xavi also looked forward to the battle between Araujo and Vinicius.

"Araujo is very physically strong, he's quick, fast, and understands the movements of his opponents," Xavi said.

"He's responsible, and a leader. He's a world class defender, one of the best in the world. Having Ronald in the team, is a guarantee, an advantage.

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"Usually when he takes on Vinicius, he comes out as the winner of the battle, but Vinicius can make a big difference.

"It's not just Ronald, it's (everyone) looking out, and collectively, we've been very good against Madrid."

Xavi, a former Barca star midfielder, said he was looking forward to coaching in the clasico at Camp Nou for the first time, with his prior clashes with Madrid all taking place away from home.

"I am very motivated, you know I'm a big Barca fan, these games get me going," added Xavi. "I'm excited, I'm motivated."

Updated: March 19, 2023, 6:23 AM