Real Madrid lost a Clasico at home for the second time in four days, and though Saturday’s 1-0 loss wasn’t as embarrassing as the 3-0 reverse in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, it did kill their La Liga title hopes.
Los Blancos are now 12 points behind Barcelona. Still, it was a much-improved performance from Santiago Solari’s side, who battled throughout and were led yet again by Vinicius Junior, the youngster who’s quickly become their most important player in attack.
Here’s a closer look at how the budding young star performed.
Goals – 0
Shots – 6
Shots on target – 1
Chances created – 3
Dribbles – 2
Vinicius was well-marshaled by Barcelona’s defence, with Sergi Roberto in particular sticking to him whenever he had the ball. When the Barcelona right-back’s attention was elsewhere, Gerard Pique stepped up to ensure Vinicius always had a player breathing down his neck.
That attention meant the young Brazilian couldn’t affect the game as he would have liked, and his own poor shooting didn’t help. But he was still Madrid’s biggest threat on the night, a sign of the quality Vinicius has.
Nobody created more chances in this game than Vinicius Junior, who had three. In a game where Lionel Messi is involved, that is an incredible stat. He also led the game in shots alongside Messi – two stats that show how much of an attacking threat he was.
Vinicius’ skill on the ball is already well-known, and that talent was on display again on Saturday. Vinicius’ two dribbles were topped only by Messi and Sergio Reguilon – a surprise name – as he looked to drive at the Barca defence throughout.
absurd how comfortable that was. Real Madrid really have NOTHING if Vinicius isn't in sizzling form. https://t.co/sUlbWxuYnM— Muhammad Butt (@muhammadbutt) March 2, 2019
The day Vinicius becomes a better finisher, he will be lethal. With his pace, dribbling ability and vision, he’s nearly the full package already; all he needs to do is add a regular goal threat to his game.
This was not the day he did that, however. Though his six shots were the joint-highest in the game, only one of those was on target – and he should have done much better with that one, sending a shot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen. His finishing needs work.
There are two big takeaways from Vinicius’ performance on Saturday. Firstly, it is ridiculous that Madrid are this reliant on an 18-year-old who’s played half a season for them. Karim Benzema has had a good campaign but the rest of the attack hasn’t stepped up.
On the other hand, Barca paying such close attention to a teenager in his third Clasico is remarkable. It certainly reduced Vinicius’ impact, but he should wear that attention like a badge of honour – while working on his finishing.
RATING – 7/10
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