Real Madrid: 3 things for Vinicius Junior to improve on in 2021

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Find his finishing touch in front of goal

This is absolutely the most important goal for Vinicius Junior in 2021. At Real Madrid, a right-footed left winger is expected to pitch in as a goal-scorer. Chance-creation is nice, but Los Blancos already have talent in midfield and Karim Benzema up top. What Real need is someone who can combine chance-creation and goal-scoring from the left wing position, and Vini hasn’t done the latter frequently enough.

Vini started the 2020-2021 season well enough as a scorer with three goals, but he has not scored in more than two months. He’s had two assists in that time span and helped create an own goal, but zero goals with an xG of 2.5, per, simply isn’t getting it done.

I want to highlight Vini’s wonderful goal against Levante. He scored a peach of a goal early in that 2-0 win by curling the ball around the keeper expertly, but what’s interesting is that this seems to be the only finish Vini excels at, other than lifting the ball over the keeper with his right. When you watch him cut inside, he’s always looking for that curler, and defenders know to make him use his left foot. He’ll rarely even attempt the shot.

Vinicius still needs confidence in front of goal, and since he’s also a player who uses his right foot 88 percent of the time, he likewise needs confidence hitting those near-post finishes with his left. What made Cristiano Ronaldo so lethal on the left was that he could provide a variety of finishes. Vinicius cannot.

His repertoire is too limited, and perhaps, as a smart player, his own acknowledgment of his limitations leads him to lack confidence and hesitate in front of goal. And hesitation is insidious. It messes with built-in motor patterns that are practiced, affords defenders time to close shooting angles, and even clogs up cut-back angles.