Real Madrid need to let Vinicius Junior stand out

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid left winger Vinicius Junior has scored in back-to-back games, and his goals are a reminder that good things happen when he takes the reigns.

Last season, there wasn’t a more important player to Real Madrid‘s success than Karim Benzema. In 2020-2021, hopefully, Benzema’s importance will actually decrease because the young players will step up to take on some of that goal-scoring load.

Backup striker Luka Jovic received back-to-back starts against Real Betis and Real Valladolid and played reasonably well. He is one player Los Blancos can count on more. But THE player Real Madrid can look to as a star attacker next to Benzema is left-sided winger Vinicius Junior.

The 20-year-old Brazilian is in his third season with Real Madrid since signing from Flamengo before the 2018-2019 season. An early success, Vinicius stepped up his game in 2019-2020, and if his crucial goals in wins over Real Valladolid and Levante are any indication, he will take his biggest step forward in 2020-2021.

Vinicius, per, was one of La Liga’s leaders in progressive distanced dribbled per 90 minutes last season. The statistics show that only Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard were more effective dribblers, which means Vinicius, as a second-year Madrid player, was quite literally in elite company.

Vinicius Junior is already a game-changer for Real Madrid

More of a creator than a scorer, the knock on Vinicius has been his inconsistent finishing. But when he does finish, he’s capable of scoring some of the best goals of the season for Real Madrid. Look no further than his gorgeous curled effort against Levante, his chipped goal this summer at Mallorca, or his effort from the edge of the box against Osasuna last September.

Even when he’s not scoring, though, Vinicius is still a game-changer for Real Madrid as the man who serves as the team’s workhorse in the attack. No player looks to get into the penalty box as often as Vinicius, whose one-on-one dribbling makes him one of the biggest assets to the team. You can see the difference in the way Real Madrid play when he’s on the pitch versus when he’s on the pitch. And opponents like Valladolid and Atletico Madrid have seen that, too, as they gave up decisive goals soon after the Brazilian entered the game.

Zinedine Zidane has a situation that is either enviable or unenviable, depending on your perspective. He must juggle having not just two starting-caliber left wingers, but three in Eden Hazard, Rodrygo Goes, and Vinicius Junior.

Hazard could return for El Clasico on Oct. 25, and after Real spent 100 million euros on him and saw how he can transform the team when 100 percent last Fall, he will get every chance to earn back the starting spot.

Real Madrid’s win over Barcelona was a microcosm of Vinicius Junior’s positive mentality

But that’s the key phrase: “earn back”. He will not be handed an opportunity, and he will not be handed an opportunity because of Vinicius’ fine work.

At Real Madrid, it is easy for a young player to feel the pressure from the fans, and Vinicius has undoubtedly felt that pressure when he misses chances. But you can tell that he is not afraid to shoot, lose the ball, or anything. His coaches and his teammates give him the support, and he has the confidence to keep plugging away.

Look no further than his goal against Barcelona. The fans were still cheering him but were clearly getting antsy after some early misses. But Casemiro told Vinicius to keep shooting, and Vinicius delivered the crucial 1-0 goal in the 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid must keep letting Vinicius take on these opportunities to get into the box and go for goals. They need him to keep making those strides and let his talent shine, both because it’s the right thing to do with a young player and because he is the future of the team. Hazard is in his prime still, but Real can no longer count on his health over the long-term. There are no guarantees Hazard will be a game-in, game-out player for them over the next three years.

And while there are no guarantees for Vinicius, he’s looking increasingly close to being the “real deal”. In order to be the “real deal”, of course, he needs to continue his development by becoming a more lethal goal-scorer and just as apt at getting into dangerous situations in and around the box, drawing fouls in the process like Hazard does at the left wing spot.

Was signing Eden Hazard worth it for Real Madrid?. dark. Next

Key to this development is Vinicius continuing to getting the blessing from the organization to just do his thing. It’s so important for a young player to have that trust, especially someone who may lose the ball once but will create at least as many opportunities by being himself on the pitch.