Real Madrid: 5 players who have to shine in must-win match vs. Gladbach

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

LW Vinicius Junior

There will be no Eden Hazard this week, and he may be out until 2021, per reporting from COPE’s Arancha Rodriguez. So Vinicius Junior must be “The Guy” for Real Madrid at the left wing position, and his never-give-up attitude could prove to be the difference in such a high-stakes match.

Let’s refer to Vinicius’ outing at Sevilla. He was not at his best, to be perfectly honest. Vinicius missed a couple of good chances and was, once again, sloppy with his passing and even dribbling. But Vini never gave up. He never got discouraged or put his head down. Whereas Rodrygo Goes and, more frustratingly, Karim Benzema went invisible, Vinicius took on the responsibility. He did not score, but he did force the own goal.

Vinicius’ attitude is top-notch. He does not hide from the spotlight or the criticism, and he never stops working. But his technical quality is not top-notch. His finishing is one-dimensional. And his dribbling is starting to hurt the team more than it helps.

There can be no bad habits, second-guessing, or head-scratching passes on counterattacks. Vinicius needs to look the part and play the part on Wednesday night with the whole world watching Real Madrid.

ST Karim Benzema

We can talk about Vini’s importance to Real Madrid and the focus on the young man, but the reality is that no player should be under more pressure than Karim Benzema. He has been awful in too many games this season, and for someone regarded as a club legend, he’s sure made more headlines for his failings than for his goals.

Benzema, even so, is the team’s leader with six goals and three assists in all competitions, though Rodrygo Goes has more goals and assists per 90, according to

The problem is Benz’s goal contributions come and go. And the secondary issue is that Real are among La Liga’s worst teams at converting chances. Benzema is the striker of that team. So he needs to be receiving the most questions – not a 20-year-old left winger who is technically supposed to be the backup to Eden Hazard.

Next. Real Madrid Predicted XI vs. Gladbach. dark

Benzema has made the difference in huge matches before, specifically last season when Real won the La Liga title. But he’s also played below his standard in more games than not this season. We need to see the best of Benzema on Wednesday, otherwise two things could happen. Firstly, Real Madrid would drop to the Europa League. And secondly, Real wouldn’t just be looking to replace their manager, they’d also be in the market for a new No. 9.