Real Madrid’s trip to Kyiv on Tuesday night was reminiscent of better times. Their performance against Shakhtar Donetsk was utterly dominant, vibrant and collectively perfect to seal a resounding 5-0 Champions League victory. It was a night of ruthless togetherness, although one man stood out for his stunning individuality – Vinicius Jr.
Vinicius Jr 2021/22 Performances Have Been Scorching, and He is Rapidly Rising to Superstardom
A Wonderkid Finding His Feet
Vinicius’ story at the Santiago Bernabeu since his arrival as an 18-year-old in the summer of 2018 has been one of disappointment.
Following a promising settling process upon his arrival in Spain, the Brazilian went on to notch seven goals and eight assists in 82 La Liga appearances over three seasons. By the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign, many had expected the youngster to start showcasing his glittering potential and had grown frustrated when things turned out differently.
Alas, it wasn’t his time. But it seems as though now certainly is.
The 2021/22 season has brought with it a reincarnation of the unfulfilling Vinicius Jr – one that terrorises and sweeps away defences. In Real Madrid’s opening eight league fixtures, the 21-year-old has grabbed eight goal involvements (five goals and three assists). The Brazilian is finally providing the support to talisman Karim Benzema that gives Los Blancos a thundering depth in advanced positions.
And, while Benzema earned the Man of the Match award for an all-round perniciously substantial contribution to the 5-0 trouncing, it was Vinicius who stole the show.
The Performance of a Star
In what was a fairly frantic first 45 minutes, Real found themselves deservedly – even if just about – 1-0 up at the interval. A fierce resumption of play would be needed to see out the contest. And that’s what Ancelotti’s 21-year-old wonderkid gave his side.
Finally turning his sharp, untouchable and direct dribbling and movement into something clinical, Vinicius showed brilliant awareness and intelligence five minutes into the second half. Timing his inverted run to perfection, the winger latched onto Luka Modric’s gorgeous slide rule pass before showcasing the composure and decisiveness that had previously lacked in his game.
The winger took a touch to steady himself, before chipping nonchalantly over the onrushing Anatoliy Trubin to make it 2-0.
He secured a quickfire brace with the moment of the match. Picking the ball up from Benzema’s lay off on the left-wing, Vinicius embarked on a characteristically breakneck run, weaving in and out of helpless Shakhtar defenders’ challenges before emphatically firing into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.
It was a stunning few seconds of Samba flair, a goal Ronaldinho would’ve been more than proud of, a true glimpse of what Vinicius is all about. And just to put the cherry on top of the cake, he rounded off his performance with an assist for compatriot Rodrygo.
It was an almost perfect outing for the youngster and an attainment of a level that he’s been performing at for large parts of the campaign.
Real Madrid and Vinicius Jr Are Increasingly Threatening
With Vinicius at these heights, Real Madrid have various dimensions to their attacking play. This differs from the previous 18 months, in which the burdened Benzema had largely carried the offensive threat around his depressingly underwhelming colleagues.
Now, however, they’re a team visibly on a mission; a team bonded through collective spirit and heightened by the brilliantly effective arrogance and quality of their divine attacking talent.
Benzema has long been a star of the Los Blancos side and now, it looks as though Vincius is rising to superstardom as well.
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