REAL MADRID

Rodrygo and Vinicius seem inextricably linked

The two young Brazilians have both had their moments under Zinedine Zidane but their fortunes also appear to contrast with that of their countryman.

The 'Rodrygo effect' has long since been diluted. For Sunday's match against Celta Vigo, Zinedine Zidane chose to leave out the Brazilian from the matchday squad, the third time in a row in LaLiga and the fourth time so far in 2020. This is an unfamiliar situation for the young man from São Paulo as since October he has seen his place in the first team squad, allowing him to increase his standing, and put thoughts of Castilla very much at the back of his mind. But this season has seen the career paths of him and fellow samba kid, Vinicius, contrast. As Rodrygo has grown, Vini has stagnated. And vice versa.

Rodrygo and Vinicius contrasted

The 2019/20 campaign for Vinicius began with ownership of a first-team shirt in Vigo against Celta. He played his part in the first five games of the season and that got him his call up to the Brazilian national team. By the time Rodrygo was given his debut for Los Blancos, against Osasuna (incidintally coming on to replace his compatriot), the number 25 had already accumulated 290 minutes.

It was from the first clash against Galatasaray in the Champions League mid-October when the balance began to shift towards the youngest of the two, following impressive performances. In the month of November, Vinicius played just 43 minutes in six games. In three matches he was not even summoned to the squad. That month Rodrygo only missed out on playing in the visit to Eibar. He had 253 minutes on the park and scored a hat-trick in the home leg against Galatasaray. The fans were in love. By the end of the month, Rodrygo had taken over, and had debuted for the national team.

The new calendar year didn't start particularly well for either of the two, both substitutes in the first three games. Vinicius played 19 minutes in Getafe and 17 against Atlético in the Super Cup, with extra-time allowing Rodrygo to play a total of 60 minutes against the Rojiblancos. The latter did get two starting roles against Sevilla and Valladolid.

Los Blancos' number 27 had one of his poorest performances against the Blanquivioletas, and came after not being called up for the Copa del Rey game with Unionistas. He then didn't play a minute against Zaragoza and missed out on Atlético, Osasuna and now Celta in LaLiga. Rodrygo did make his presence felt in the cup exit against La Real, coming off to score before the team were eliminated.

As Zidane has switched things around, his left winger, Vinicius, didn't travel to Valladolid, but he has had minutes in the four games following, scoring in Zaragoza. And he has a chance again at the Bernabéu on Sunday. In 2020 he has so far played 370 minutes compared to Rodrygo's 225 and overall Vini now has an hour more pitchtime than his compatriot (1,069 minutes against 1,009). That gap could widen against Celta but the expectation is that his main rival, Eden Hazard, will take his place at some point during the game, likely in the second half.

The Belgian came to be the latest galáctico in white, but injuries have prevented him demonstrating his full repertoire. There are two Brazilians inextricably linked to his availability, and that of each other.