Vinicius Junior

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Vinicius Junior is the latest player to flourish under Zidane

Leave a comment

MADRID — Vinicius Junior has become the latest Real Madrid player given new life by coach Zinedine Zidane.

The Brazilian teenager started this weekend for the first time in nearly two months, taking full advantage of his chances.

After a long time being overlooked, Vinicius Junior put in an exciting performance in the team’s 2-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday, being loudly cheered by the Santiago Bernabeu crowd.

“Vinicius has done very well after not playing for long time, that is important,” Zidane said. “He got his chance and did well. He never stopped working hard.”

Zidane has been trying to keep his entire squad motivated this season, constantly rotating players and not leaving them on the sidelines for too long. He recently recovered Francisco “Isco” Alarcon by making him a starter again following a long period on the bench, and had done the same with other players who did not have many minutes this season.

Vinicius Junior hadn’t started since the team’s 1-0 loss at Mallorca in the Spanish league in October, coming off the bench only three other times since then. The team’s other Brazilian teenager, Rodrygo, had gained space and was having more opportunities under Zidane recently.

But on Saturday, Vinicius Junior put his talent on display again, using his nifty moves to get past defenders and create numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates. Rodrygo also played from the start, but it was Vinicius Junior who attracted all the attention.

Vinicius Junior’s only goal this season came in a league match against Osasuna in September, but Zidane said that’s not something being held against him.

“The important thing is that the player wants to score and is doing his best,” Zidane said. “The goal may come or may not. It will be the result of his good work on the field.”

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior tears ankle ligaments

AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
Leave a comment

Real Madrid’s troubled season is in even worse shape with the news that Vinicius Junior’s season may be finished early due to torn ankle ligaments.

[ MORE: Pochettino banned ]

The 18-year-old is one of the lone bright spots of the 2018-19 campaign, which will end with neither a Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League, nor La Liga crown barring a stunning Barcelona collapse.

Vinicius was in tears leaving the pitch during the first half of Real’s 4-1 loss to Ajax at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, an ankle injury taking him out of the match at 2-0.

With three goals and 12 assists in 28 matches despite his tender age, Vinicius was serving notice that he can be part of the light at the end of this season’s tunnel. He had just earned his first call into Brazil camp.

Real is eight points clear of fifth place Alaves and 11 ahead of Sevilla, so it’s Champions League place is not in question for next season. It’s road into the end of the season is also quite forgiving.

Vinicius Junior injured as Real Madrid on brink (video)

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Playing in the biggest game of his life, 18-year-old Real Madrid whiz kid Vinicius Junior subbed off of it in tears.

An early injury was complicated by a long dribble, and the Brazilian left the match in the 34th minute.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

Real trailed Ajax 2-0 in the match and 3-2 on aggregate when Vinicius was unable to continue the second leg.

Vinicius has three goals and 12 assists in 28 matches this season.

He’s contributed to a goal just over every 100 minutes, and was as explosive as anyone not named Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey.

Lucas Vazquez was also subbed off the pitch for Gareth Bale, but that was not down to injury.

Vinicius Junior called up for Brazil for first time

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

RIO DE JANEIRO — Vinicius Junior has been called up to the Brazilian national team for the first time for friendly matches against Panama and the Czech Republic.

The 18-year-old striker has become a key player for Real Madrid this season.

[ MORE: PL relegation picture in focus ]

Brazil coach Tite also called up midfielder Felipe Anderson and striker Richarlison.

Brazil is preparing to host the Copa America in June.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras)

Ddefenders: Alex Sandro (Juventus), Danilo (Manchester City), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Eder Militao (Porto), Dani Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan)

Midfielders: Allan (Napoli), Arthur (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan)

Forwards: Everton (Gremio), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

El Clasico: Real gets away goal in 1st leg Copa del Rey draw

Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Real Madrid takes an away goals advantage away from its Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at Barcelona following a 1-1 draw in El Clasico.

The match was much closer than Barca’s 5-1 rout in La Liga player earlier this season, and Real led after six minutes through Lucas Vazquez.

[ RECAP: Everton 0-2 Man City ]

With Lionel Messi on the bench for the first 63 minutes, it was down to Malcom to level the tie with his 57th minute marker (below).

Vinicius Junior was perhaps the Man of the Match, helping to set-up Real’s goal.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Bernabeu.

Barca had more of the ball, and both teams attempted 11 shots.