Nobody protects Vinicius, the most fouled player in LaLiga
Araújo’s borderline tackles in the Spanish Super Cup are the product of a trend that has been growing.
Xavi had it clear ever since he put together his starting lineup. He wanted to man-mark Vinicius and for that he chose Ronald Araújo, who stopped the Brazilian with a type of relentless marking that bordered on the legal/illegal line at times. This was especially evident during a tough tackle in which the Uruguayan defender smashed into the Madrid player’s right outside of the lines the pitch.
The image, one of an opponent on the floor as he tries to take out the winger, is becoming quite the theme of the Brazilian’s season. Right now he the player who has received the most fouls in LaLiga (53) and is head and shoulders above second place, Rayo Vallecano’s Isi (45).
Vinicius’ numbers are rising
The average numbers are revealing: Vinicius has gone from being fouled 2.3 times per game last season to 3.5 in this one. The paradox is that despite the opponents’ plans to stop the player clearly being to foul him, they do not normally come with the typical yellow card one might expect.
Iago Aspas is the player who has provoked the most cards this season with 10; Vinicius sits on 9 alongside Morata and Samu Lino. The maths, then, is clear: going in on Vinicius is a profitable idea.
Real Madrid are struggling for form this season
The Madrid winger is having a tough time right now in terms of performances and one of the reasons could be the treatment he is getting from opponents. This year he is receiving more hard-hitting tackles: in 2021-22, he was behind Fekir, Munir and Guedes but this year he is top of the tree. If we take it one step further and go back to talking about the referee’s decisions regarding these hits, last year he got 5 penalties for being fouled - this year he has none.
In the Super Cup, Vinicius suffered his normal average. He was fouled 3 times as well as this controversial attempt to take the ball by Araújo. This is significant as despite the fact that the rules say it would not constitute a foul (given it happened off the pitch), it would allow for a yellow or red card to be given by the referee. In this case, De Burgos Bengoetexea chose not to punish the defender and VAR decided not to take the case any further.
Vinicius is having to get used to this. This season, as an internal barometer at Real Madrid, he has doubled the number of fouls received (71): Vinicius has become the Big Game Hunt for his opponents.
LaLiga Santander 2022/2023
*Data updated to date Jan 16th, 2023