Vinicius Junior was the X-Factor in Real Madrid’s win over Atalanta

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) /

Luka Modric was the official Man of the Match, and it’s an honor he 100 percent deserved after completing controlling the center of the pitch and making defensive action after defensive action in a three-lunged display against Atalanta. But Real Madrid fans should also save some heavy praise for Vinicius Junior, who turned up in a big way on Tuesday night.

Shining on the big stage is nothing new for Vinicius. Not only was he a breakout player in the 2018-2019 Champions League season before suffering an injury, but he was also a difference-maker late last season in rivalry wins over Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona en route to the title. Vini came off the bench and created the winning goal against Atleti, and he scored the all-important opener on his own in a 2-0 win over Barça.

Against Atalanta, Vinicius misplayed two opportunities to score himself, including one miss that could have been the solo goal of the Champions League season. It was mesmerizing watching Vini weave through four defenders in Atalanta’s penalty box, and it was equally stunning to see how he managed to miss.

But no matter. Vini did not give up. He did not let his head sink after an agonizing miss. Instead, the 20-year-old forward went at it again, driving at the heart of Atalanta’s defense. And this time, the overmatched Rafael Toloi’s mistake was punished in the form of a yellow card and a spot kick. Sergio Ramos did the rest, giving Real Madrid a commanding 2-0 lead in the second leg, having already won the first match 1-0 on the road.

Vinicius Junior took center stage for Real Madrid vs. Atalanta

Throughout the 90, Vinicius was in great form. It is a sight to behold when Vini is in his element, confidently attacking an opposition’s back line. He seems to almost be playing his own game, doing whatever he wants with the ball at his feet, drifting dangerously close to a defender before bamboozling them with his quick feet.

Vinicius gets criticized for his decision-making, but he made all the right decisions on the ball in this one. The final execution was lacking, once again, in front of goal, but if you get hung up on that, you miss the forest for the trees. And the trees are his stunning footwork and uncanny ability to repeatedly create and create and create, charging up the pitch with the electricity emanating from his unceasing legs.

Next. Real Madrid Player Ratings vs. Atalanta. dark

Modric owned the pitch, but Vinicius honestly stole the show. Real Madrid needed one of their wingers to set the tone in the second leg, and Vini, as you’d expect, was the one to step up. His character and drive make him a perfect Madridista, because we all know how important it is for a player to be able to live in the spotlight – and especially for a young player to be able to look past his own mistakes and never give up.

That is Vinicius Junior in a nutshell. And against Atalanta at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, the No. 20 put on an absolute show for anyone who appreciates the art of dribbling and the science of resiliency.