Real Madrid have to start Vinicius Junior over Marco Asensio

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

On Matchday 26, Zinedine Zidane made a mistake with his starting lineup for Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid. His mistake was putting his faith in Marco Asensio, who started on the left-hand side with Rodrygo Goes starting on the right in his first start since a significant injury.

The result was a plodding attack that failed to create much of anything. Real’s fortunes only really changed in the second half once both starting wingers were taken out for Fede Valverde and Vinicius Junior.

Although Vinicius did not tie the game himself, as he did the previous Monday vs. Real Sociedad, he very nearly had a game-tying assist that Karim Benzema could not get past Jan Oblak. Vini showed his quality in the final 30 minutes of the match, attacking Atleti’s defense and drawing fouls, taking on the initiative that Asensio could not.

For weeks, we have seen Asensio coast by in matches on the right-hand side. He has failed to provide a clear attacking threat to this team, and Real Madrid have suffered accordingly. They were playing a man down in the attack with Asensio on the pitch. Considering he has just two goals this season, Asensio’s goal-scoring threat is a mere hypothetical at this point.

Marco Asensio needs a break from the Real Madrid starting XI

Meanwhile, for as much as Vinicius gets criticized for his end product, he has two goal contributions in his last five games. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more than what can be said about most of Real’s forwards, especially Asensio.

If Zidane has to choose, he has to pick Vini over Asensio. It is much better for Real Madrid to start Vinicius on the left and either Rodrygo or Lucas Vazquez on the right than it is to keep playing Asensio every week. Even Isco would be preferred, either out wide or in a diamond formation.

I am not saying Asensio should be shunned from the lineup without a chance to earn his spot back. That would be ridiculous. But the best players have to play, and Vini has been more effective than Asensio.

Furthermore, is it wise for Zidane to keep starting a player who is clearly struggling and may be low on confidence as a result? I should say not. Asensio has not scored in his last seven games and has scored just twice in more than 30 appearances in all competitions.

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That’s awful. And if Asensio isn’t taking players on or creating, then his goal-scoring woes become that much more unacceptable to Real Madrid. Again, Vinicius has his own flaws to contend with, but at 20 years old, he has shown more character, drive, and all-around play than the 25-year-old Asensio. It is time for Zidane to show more trust in Vini as a starter than Asensio.