Real Madrid are champions of Europe for a record 14th time, extending their lead with a 1-0 win over Liverpool on Saturday night at the Stade de France. The heroes of the match were on the defensive side, specifically goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but Madridistas are also giving loads of praise to the man who scored the winning goal, Vinicius Jr.
The young Brazilian winger found the back of the net in the 59th minute to give Real Madrid a lead they would never relinquish.
And the man who assisted him? Another young star, Fede Valverde.
However, there has been some debate about Fede’s assist. Some fans and even pundits are saying that it was meant to be a shot – that he was lucky. That it was a coincidence the goal happened. But as with so much of what they say about Real Madrid’s season, this was not luck.
Let’s watch the goal together.
Fede Valverde’s assist for Vinicius Jr. is not uncommon in football nowadays
I watch a lot of football, and we are seeing more and more players disguising their intentions with different techniques. It is the name of the game of the chess match on the pitch. And this particularly driven cross technique where the player approaches the ball like it is a shot but is really aiming for a player at the backpost has been done often in Ligue 1, for example.
If Fede Valverde really were aiming to shoot, he would have done so with more velocity. The ball never would have reached Vinicius. It would have already been out of bounds.
The second point is the accuracy. If it were a shot, it would have skewed horribly wide, closer to the corner flag, if it were hit with more velocity and maintained that trajectory.
Why did the ball end up there? Valverde intended it. I know it is hard to see on the replay, but, if you can, pause right as he releases. You will see a tell-tale sign. His left, plant foot is pointed out of bounds. Why would a professional player point their plant foot wide on a shot? They wouldn’t.
Better yet, watch where Fede looks just as he releases it. If you shoot, you look at the goal. If you pass, you look at the target. Fede looked at Vinicius. A point he said himself. In case you needed more evidence beyond the film.
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This goal was the result of great positioning by Vini and quick thinking by Valverde. Give credit where credit is due.