How Real Madrid’s entire attack has been built around Vinicius Jr.

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

With 45 goals in 21 matches, Real Madrid, the league leaders, stand as the only team in LaLiga averaging more than two goals per game. Those goals have mostly come from two men, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior. Combined, the Real Madrid superstars have scored 29 times with an additional 11 assists. Vinicius is responsible for 16 of those goal contributions, even though his previous career-highs were three goals and three assists in 2020-2021.

The leap Vini has made is the most impressive in all of Europe, and the importance of his improvement to Real Madrid cannot be understated. Because not only is Vini scoring goals, but he is also THE player from which everything proceeds. This was most evident when he did NOT play against Getafe and Real lost 1-0 in their most feeble performance of the season.

Even before this season, Vinicius was important to Real with his dribbling, ball-carrying, and work rate. Those positive traits have not disappeared. Rather, he has added goals and assists – end product – to his existing talents, creating the ultimate star for Real in many respects. He is, in a way, providing the production Real assumed they would get from Eden Hazard in 2019, albeit with the kind of exhilarating skills that a club like Madrid desires.

Beyond the skills and goals, Vini is very consistent and very, very effective. He is indeed the kind of player Real can base their attack around, and that means he is the kind of superstar who not only provides his own end product, but can also help the future Galacticos for years to come. Far from taking away from another forward, Vini can help the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland achieve more than they could on their own. Far more.

Vinicius Jr. leads Real Madrid in many attacking statistics

Vinicius Jr. leads Real Madrid in total shot-creating actions. And if we make that more specific, he leads Real in shot-creating actions from live passes, off the dribble, from fouls, and even from his own shots. Incredible. Vini is a multi-faceted creator in the final third.

On top of that, Vini is Real’s best player when it comes to getting into the final third on the ball. He does so much to help the team even before scoring and creating comes into play, when he is already a top-two (or top one) player in these categories.

The 21-year-old leads Los Blancos with 81 successful dribbles completed. There is a gap of nearly 50 dribbles between himself and second-place Benzema. Vinicius Jr. is first on the team in progressive distance carried (by over 1,000 yards on center back David Alaba, who usually has more space in front of him), total progressive carries (313 vs. Benzema’s 160…essentially double!), dribbles into the final third, and dribbles into the penalty box (84, next best is 38).

So not only is Vinicius the team’s most important and industrious player on the ball. It’s also not even close. Yet he faces so much defensive attention and has to do a lot of work in the box himself to score and assist.

Carlo Ancelotti has built his tactics around Vinicius Jr. for a reason

Vini is indispensable. Carlo Ancelotti deserves credit not just for helping Vini find confidence in his finishing by not overthinking, but also for stylistically building a team around the supreme gifts that this young man possesses.

With Vini’s dribbling ability, work rate, skill, ball-carrying, and, of course, speed, he is the perfect player to have in transition. Everything Ancelotti has done is to help Vini lead transitions and get opportunities in transition. He’s also made use of balls over the top to Vini. Even if Eder Militao, David Alaba, Toni Kroos, or another Madrid player can’t find him on a pass, his speed and the very threat of this quick pass happening keeps defenses honest.

Real Madrid are more than just a team that plays on the counter, but they have become more of a counter-heavy team that takes advantage of transition opportunities. That is by design, and that is part of Ancelotti’s plan to make sure the ball is in Vini’s hands with as much space as possible.

Real Madrid's most in-form player to start the year. dark. Next

He wants to make his most dangerous player even more dangerous to the opposition. And so far, it is working. Vinicius hasn’t just upgraded his finishing. This season, he has put all his other tools together and taken on the responsibility of being the team’s centerpiece in the attack. He has done so with aplomb, showing Madridists the passion within him to succeed at the highest level for the club he loves. And the scariest part is that at 21, this is only the beginning for Vinicius Jr.