REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Vinicius is now Zinedine Zidane's solution

The Brazilian has only started 11 out of 37 games this season but was Real Madrid's ace up the sleeve against Manchester City in the Champions League.

Real Madrid: Vinicius is now Zinedine Zidane's solution
JAVIER GANDUL

Vinicius has emerged as a serious contender to replace Eden Hazard on a more regular basis after his display against Manchester City in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at the Bernabéu. Despite the result, the Brazilian teenager put in his best performance of the season against Pep Guardiola’s side, assisting Isco for Real’s goal and causing City all manner of problems from a position out wide on the left, his preferred area of operation, while also putting in a shift in defence and recovering possession eight times.

Vinicius has started only 11 times this season out of a possible 37 games and the arrival at the Bernabéu of Eden Hazard last summer was in essence a relegation for the teenager, who couldn’t really hope to challenge the Belgium international for a regular starting spot in Zinedine Zidane’s XI and he was shunted out to the right when he did get the opportunity to play. However, Hazard has endured an injury ravaged season and the Real boss has been forced to constantly seek solutions to the absence of the former Chelsea attacker. In Vinicius, he has now found one.

Vinicius takes centre stage

After a non-descript start to the season, in which Rodrygo gained weight in the first team reckoning and Vinicius was left out of the squad entirely on six occasions, the Brazilian now appears to have moved ahead of Isco, Gareth Bale, Luka Jovic and his compatriot, who has dropped down to Castilla, in Zidane’s pecking order.

Zidane has tried to use his entire squad in the face of injuries and played Bale against Osasuna and Celta but when the crunch came against City the Frenchman turned to his talented but erratic Brazilian, who took his chances in the Copa del Rey and is now reaping the benefit on the bigger stages. It remains to be seen what Zidane cooks up for the Clásico, but Vinicius will be foremost in his mind.