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 Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Vinicius Junior needs to become a more effective dribbler

I know this sounds like a wild claim, because Vinicius Junior seems like such an agile, skillful player. But the numbers show that his dribbling has been highly inefficient this season. Vini is Real Madrid’s leader in dribbles attempted this season in all competitions with 78, and Ferland Mendy is 25 attempted dribbles behind him in second. But whereas Mendy completes 67.9 percent of his dribbles, Vini is literally a 50/50 shot to successfully beat his man.

That 50 percent rate is actually the lowest among Real Madrid players with more than five dribbles attempted this season. Only right back Alvaro Odriozola (five attempts, 40 percent successful) and third-string striker Mariano (four attempts, 25 percent) have worse rates, and their sample sizes are totally disqualifying for them to be included in any comparisons.

Here’s what’s interesting, too. Vinicius successfully completing 50 percent of his dribbles is the worst on the team this season among qualifiers, yet it’s actually an improvement of his 48.8 percent rate in the 2019-2020 season across all competitions. Compare that to his 60.3 percent success rate in his first season in 2018-2019 and you have a puzzling situation on your hands.

I’d have to take a closer look at all of Vinicius’ dribbles to make any claims about what the exact story here is, but the data states that Vinicius isn’t doing a good enough job at beating his man. He may even be costing the team with how many times he takes on defenders and gives up the ball. Considering only two of his dribbles have led to shots for his teammates (compared to seven for Karim Benzema and six for Luka Modric), it’s not like he’s making enough “boom” plays to offset these giveaways.

If we expand our view to La Liga, there are 30 players with 30 dribbles attempted this season. Out of those players, just three of them have a success rate below 50 (Vini’s rate in the league is around 45 percent): Vinicius, the 34-year-old Nolito, and the 18-year-old Yunus Musah. Those two players aren’t bad at all, so success rate isn’t the end-all, be-all.

Next. 5 midfielders for Real Madrid to target in 2021. dark

Nevertheless, Vinicius Junior is a key player for Real Madrid who is sixth in La Liga in dribbles attempted and 14th in dribbles completed. There is absolutely room for improvement in 2021.