One month on since his debut start against Melilla, Vinicius has just played a part in three games for a total of 61 minutes.
A little over a month ago, Vinicius was thrusted into the Real Madrid starting line-up for the first time for the game against Melilla. Under Julen Lopetegui, the Brazilian had only played 12 minutes. But Santiago Solari, who replaced Lopetegui after a mini crisis which saw Madrid lose four games in a row before the trip to Melilla, placed his faith in the young starlet, for the Copa del Rey tie – his first game in charge.
Vinicius' performance against Melilla confirmed that he was a viable attacking option: he provided the assist for Asensio’s goal, dribbled well and created several overlaps down the left flank. It may have been an average game against Second Division B opponents, but it did seem like we were seeing the beginning of what Vinicius had to offer as a regular in the first team. One month on, however, and the Vinicius effect has lost much of its force.
The Brazilian played 90 minutes of that game against Melilla, but since then he has only played a small part in three games, with a total of 61 minutes: 17 minutes against Valladolid, 28 minutes against Viktoria Plzen and 16 minutes against Eibar. With an appearance lasting little more than a quarter of an hour against Valladolid, he came on and had a major impact in a game that was stuck at 0-0, scoring the first goal (albeit with a lot of help from a Valladolid defender) and playing a part in second. Thanks to his short but effective input, Madrid went on to win 2-0.
Days later, Solari awarded him with half an hour against Plzen in Czech Republic, and with the match already a 4-0, he managed to provide an assist for the fifth goal scored by Kroos. At Eibar he was one of Solari’s solutions from the bench when the team was already down 3-0; he played more than a quarter of an hour in Ipurua, but with little influence on that occasion-
But with his performances against Melilla, Valladolid and Plzen, Vinicius has shown that, despite his youth, he can have major influence on the scoreboard. In total he has played 591 minutes for the first team and Castilla (the ‘B’ team), scoring four goals and setting up five. But despite these figures, he has only featured in one of Madrid’s last four games (Eibar).
This could partly be explained by Madrid’s resurgence in attack. Since Solari took over, Madrid have won six games out of seven, scoring 19 goals and conceding five. Benzema and Bale are finding the net again, meaning the only position remaining for the Brazilian to fight for is that of Asensio. Although currently the main other option for Solari in attack is Lucas Vázquez, who repaid the Argentinean’s confidence by scoring against Valencia on Saturday, which followed his goal against Roma just four days prior.
But Madrid have had a packed schedule for what remains of 2018, and Vinicius will have an opportunity again to show Solari that he deserves more game time – starting with the return leg against Melilla on December 6, and followed by Huesca on December 9, CSKA on December 12 and Rayo Vallecano on December 15.