REAL MADRID

Rodrygo and Vinicius shine when Benzema is missing

The two young Brazilians have shown signs that they are able to step up with Los Blancos' striking Frenchman is out of contention.

The two great nights in a Real Madrid shirt this season for Brazilian starlets Rodrygo and Vinicius have had a common denominator: the absence of Karim Benzema in the starting line-up. With the French striker missing due to injury for the Spanish Super Cup, once again the youngsters have a chance to shine.

Rodrygo and Vinicius opportunity

Benzema has only been dropped by Zinedine Zidane in this campaign for two matches, those against Osasuna in LaLiga and the trip to Brugge in the Champions League. In both of those games, Vinicius and Rodrygo got themselves onto the scoresheet. In the absence of the club's secure number '9' the contribution of the two young Brazilians helped the side keep the rhythm in front of goal.

That midweek home game against the visiting Osasuna side saw Zidane give a break to Benzema and allowed Vinicius to step up. He opened the scoring in the 36th minute and his emotional celebration was a clear unloading of all the built-up tension. Rodrygo closed off the victory just a minute and a half after coming on to make his debut, replacing his compatriot. In Brugge, with the Frenchman on the bench, it was Rodrygo that scored first and then Vinicius to set up the away win.

Vinicius and Rodrygo have shared pitchtime for a total of 238 minutes, distributed across five games: Mallorca (15), Galatasaray (3) in Istanbul, Espanyol (85), Brugge (73) and Athletic (62). The former's goal in Belgium, assisted by his Brazilian teammate, is the only time they've directly combined to score.

Three wins and one loss without any of the BBC

The semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup will be the fifth match since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018 in which neither Gareth Bale nor Benzema, the other two members of the famous trident, have played. Without any signs of the BBC on the field, Madrid have won three and drawn once. The only defeat came last season in the second round of the Copa del Rey against Leganés (1-0), a result that did not prevent Madrid from progressing.

Wednesday night will be another chance...