Clement Lenglet or Ronald Araujo as Gerard Pique's partner in Barcelona's strongest side. There's a debate at Camp Nou. There already was before Sunday's Spanish Supercopa final but now even more so. Lenglet once again made individual mistakes as Araujo continued to take giant strides forward every time he plays. Araujo did well despite the 3-2 loss to Athletic Club and is making a big case to be Pique's partner when he returns from injury.
The night got off to a bad start for Lenglet when he was booked for fouling Iñaki Williams. As a centre-back and knowing the speed Williams possesses, playing 75 minutes on a yellow card was a huge handicap. And in the last minute, a marking error allowed Villalibre to make it 2-2. It was not the first time Athletic had threatened from a dead ball, although Lenglet wasn't solely to blame, but the while team for how they defended set plays.
The French defender, though, has made more errors than expected this season. Until this campaign, he had stood out as a reliable defender who was consistent and didn't make mistakes. But the penalty in the Clasico, errors against Juventus and his part in Negredo's goal against Cadiz have seen his stock fall in recent months.
Meanwhile, Araujo's winning praise from everyone. While he made one or two slight errors at La Cartuja, he was much more solid than Lenglet. He won his battles with the Athletic forwards and was quick and good in the air. The Uruguayan can still improve more, especially at set plays, where he wasn't at his best on Sunday, but right now he is ahead of Lenglet in the pecking order. At least based on recent months.
This season, Lenglet has played 1,766 minutes. Araujo has played 1,133. Lenglet has been booked seven times. Araujo not once. He is skilled at arriving on time.
With the signing of Eric Garcia ruled out in January, both will continue to start games until Pique returns. But if they continue in the same form, everything suggests Araujo is now Barça's second-choice centre-back. Lenglet has to re-find his form and confidence if he doesn't want to lose his place in Ronald Koeman's team.