Vinicius the sophomore
University sport in the US refers athletes in their second season as 'sophomores'. It is a term that is also used by the NBA, however, to find the origin of the word, and a possible alternative in Spanish, I have to consult my learned collegaue, Álex Grijelmo. It is relevant, because the second season tends to give more of an idea about the potential of a player than their debut campaign does. In the first year they enjoy an effervescence, the protection of the team's veterans, and they are indulged more by the public and critics. By the second year, all that disappears, they are now just one of the team, and they have to defend their place with no privileges.
Vinicius second season
It is in this situation that Vinicius finds himself, the boy who turns 19 today. Last season was his first campaign in Europe and his overall performance could be defined with a 'Napoleon hat' graph. He was effectively ignored by Lopetegui, then announced himself with a bang under Solari, before being dropped back again after Zidane's return, with injury playing its part too. On his game, he left us with a sense of his lightning pace with which to attack the defender, carrying the ball into the opponent's area with ease. He lacked precision with his finishing, but showed an improvement in passing.
Challenges for Vinicius
Everything suggested that this was a player with enormous potential, representing a type of player that is very scarce. Unfortunately, the injury suffered against Ajax in the Champions League, and maybe Zidane's indifference towards him, cost him a last-minute call-up to the Copa América, somewhere he could have advanced his game, and convincing us further. With Hazard, who usually plays from the same area as the Brazilian, and the precedent set by Zidane's lack of warmth, this second year may be an uphill struggle. But, if he is truly a big star of the future, he will be able to make the next step. And most of the fans in the Bernabéu want to see that happen.
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