Tough times in defence could be coming to an end for Barcelona. Ronald Araujo is back in training after recovering from an ankle injury that has left him sidelined for the last three weeks. His comeback could, at last, allow for a new pairing at the back: Pique and Araujo are shaping up to be Barça's defensive wall in the final months of the season.
They have already played together. Last season, they played four times alongside each other, for a total of 169 minutes. This season, in two games, they have been paired together for 135 minutes. In total, 304 minutes in which FC Barcelona have only conceded one goal with them both on the pitch.
Curiously, Seville, who will be Barça's opponent on Saturday in La Liga and on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey, was the first team they played against together. It was last season, with Ernesto Valverde on the bench, when the Uruguayan came on for the injured Todibo in the 73rd minute. Just 15 minutes later, Mateu Lahoz sent him off for a foul on Chicharito Hernandez. Barça, despite that, won 4-0.
Pique and Araujo didn't play together again until the game against Mallorca after lockdown when they played 90 minutes in a 4-0 win. They played again in the late stages of the win against Espanyol (1-0) and for 63 minutes in the victory at Real Valladolid (0-1). Therefore, Barça didn't concede a goal with them last season, under Valverde or Quique Setien.
This season, Araujo and Pique were united for 45 minutes against Celta Vigo at Balaidos to keep a clean sheet after Barça had been reduced to 10 men when Clement Lenglet was sent off.
The only goal they have conceded with them both on the pitch was against Sevilla. Luuk de Jong scored from a dead ball in a game that ended 1-1.
Injuries and suspensions have kept them apart since then until this week's double duel with Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla, when they could be reunited.