REAL MADRID

Carvajal injury opens up new opportunity for Vinicius

With the injury to Carvajal, Vinicius looks set to cement himself in the starting line-up as Real Madrid prepare for a decisive run of games that could determine their season.

The injury to Dani Carvajal, who may be out for at least a month and a half, has opened up a place for Vinicius in Real Madrid’s starting XI at a decisive moment in the season.

The absences of Eden Hazard and Lucas Vázquez had given Vinicius the opportunity to start the last few games. However with the return of the latter, he was destined to be consigned to a bench role once again. But the unfortunate injury to Carvajal means Zidane will once again have to rethink his starting XI, meaning Vinicius is likely to retain his place.

The Brazilian started his best run of the season with his goal in the 1-0 win against Sevilla at the Pizjuán, after which he also started the next three games, including the derby and the decisive Champions League match against Borussia Monchengladbach at the Di Stefano.

Stomach illness forced him to sit out the match against Eibar and from then and until the match against Huesca on 6 February, he only started one game, the Copa del Rey tie against Alcoyano.

Vinicius has impressed in Real Madrid's last few games

With the absences of Carvajal, Lucas Vázquez and Hazard, Vinicius returned to the starting line-up for the match against Huesca, and has put in three outstanding performances since, including an assist for Benzema in the 2-0 win against Getafe.

Madrid are now facing a decisive run of games that could determine their season. After the trip to Valladolid on Saturday, Zidane’s side return to Champions League action with the first leg of the last 16 against Atalanta in Italy.

March begins with the visit of Real Sociedad to the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano before the crunch derby with Atlético that could be decisive in the fight for the league title. Vinicius, who is currently 11th in the squad in terms of minutes played (1,423), is in pole position to start all of these games.