Getafe loss a clear sign Vinicius Junior is Real Madrid’s player of the season

Real Madrid, Vinicius Jr. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Jr. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid had a frustrating start to the New Year. They visited the neighboring club Getafe for a local derby and suffered their second loss in the league this season with a 1-0 margin. This also was Real Madrid’s third loss in all competitions this season and surprisingly enough the losses are coming against minnows in Espanyol, FC Sheriff, and now Getafe.

Such unexpected results can go on to hurt Los Blancos in the longer run. If we wind back to last season, Atletico Madrid was enjoying a hefty lead at the summit of the standings midway through the season in LaLiga. Yet, Los Rojiblancos had to fight hard later on until the very last Matchday to secure their crown. If Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid does not want to go down a similar route, they’ll have to play much, much better. For a side going for the title, lack of sharpness in a resumption game after a short break cannot be a reason for a drop in the level of performance.

The loss against Getafe was rightly their worst loss yet. The team clearly was still in the holiday hangover and they literally gifted Getafe a New Year’s present in the first goal, courtesy of a mistake from the ever so reliable Eder Militao. He did recover well later on and had a much better game than his partner David Alaba. The Austrian was downright bad in this one.

The midfield seemed like the only functioning unit of Real Madrid’s XI against Getafe. And, Luka Modric yet again was the standout in a loss although he wasn’t his world-class best. His partners Toni Kroos and Casemiro, however, were average at the best. But, that doesn’t even come close to how bad the attack was.

The attack severely underperformed in Vini’s absence

Vinicius Junior has contracted COVID which means he’ll at least be out 10 days according to the city of Madrid’s current guidelines. Carlo Ancelotti hence had to start the trio of Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, and Rodrygo Goes. And, every single one of them under-performed. Benzema’s genius was present at times but this was probably his worst performance in the last couple of seasons. There was a lack of initiative and a collection of bad decisions.

Rodrygo had a great opportunity at the left flank. Yes, the elite Real Madrid left flank. And, the young man blew it. He did show his smartness at times with some smart linkups with Karim Benzema but he lacked the initiative to cut inside, trouble Getafe’s wingbacks, and create clearer chances.

Now coming to Marco Asensio. Nightmare. Yes, that probably is the best word to use. Apart from retreating from the attacking third after receiving the ball from Lucas Vazquez and making a few back-passes to the central defenders Asensio did nothing. I wasn’t surprised at all when Eden Hazard was brought on at the half for the anonymous Spaniard. While the Belgian was an upgrade, Hazard was never going to do anything special, was he? At least I didn’t feel at any moment that there was something positive coming Real’s way through the Belgian or otherwise.

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

Vinicius Junior is so much more than just his pace and clinical finishing

All of this just brings me to one single conclusion. Real Madrid’s attack is severely affected when Vinicius Junior isn’t playing. There are absolutely no doubts about that. In fact, I’d go on and make this argument strongly that Vinicius Junior has been Real Madrid’s player of the season. And, this loss against Getafe just further proves the same.

There is a lot of things Vini brings to the table for Real Madrid. And, no, his pace, dribbling, and improved finishing isn’t all. Those things will always be there. In fact, lack of pace on the wings was a major issue in this loss. But, his compatriot Rodrygo Goes too has a very similar skillset, he dribbles well and has good pace. And, he has always been a good shooter. The difference is of attitude, mindset, and the ability to use skills rightly.

Vinicius does a lot much more. For every player, a decent skillset is a must. But what differs is the ability to do things differently. Vini for example would have been a much more robust competitor to Getafe’s right wingback Damian Suarez who quietly made this game his own. The number of times the commentators had to take his name proves the sort of impact he had.

Vini on the pitch would have been a different story. The Brazilian is quietly turning into what my colleague Hasan says the protagonist of the club. He is fiery and he showcases his authority on away grounds. He constantly commits himself to an ongoing battle and disrupts the concentration of his opponent.

Another major change has been in his initiative. He now is Real Madrid’s main man. Yes, at times he does even more than what Benzema does for Real Madrid. I respect the Frenchman a lot and will always be grateful for everything that he does for this club, but Vini has made a name for himself. He is the one the opposing manager will create a game plan for specifically. He is LaLiga’s most dangerous attacker at the moment and nothing changes that fact.

Real Madrid doesn’t struggle so badly without Benzema as they did against Getafe. In fact, in Benzema’s absence, it was all Vini. He took initiative, found the goals, linked up the play, and inspired wins. It was the same story against Real Sociedad and also against Elche.

And a noticeable trait in attack this season for Real Madrid has been the way in which Vini has dictated the pace of buildups. It is almost like Real Madrid plays well when Vini plays well most of the time. Around Vinicius, Rodrygo is much more threatening. He has that quality in him to push his teammates to do more on the pitch. And that was severely lacking against Getafe. Especially when Benzema was having an off day. Having Vini, in my opinion, would have brought the best out of the Frenchman, they have been the dynamic duo this season and much of it is for Vinicius Junior taking up the responsibility.

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Vinicius Junior also was among the three Real Madrid players who received an A+ in their mid-season report cards, per my colleague Ali Al Hasan. There are so many more reasons that I could talk about for hours. But, the bottom line is that Vini is capable of both – the spectacular individually and drawing in teammates with him to their fullest potential. After seeing how the team struggled in his absence there is no doubt in my mind in placing him as Real Madrid’s player of the season thus far.