Who are the youngest players to play 200 games for Real Madrid?
Brazilian winger Vinícius Júnior will become the third-youngest player to reach the 200-game milestone for Real Madrid against Valencia.
Thursday is a big day for Vinícius Júnior. In Real Madrid’s LaLiga match against Valencia, the 22-year-old is expected to make his 200th appearance in the Madrid first team, with the previous 199 yielding 49 goals and 37 assists (thanks to our friends at Sofascore). It’s been quite a turnaround for a player who endured a tough start to his time in the Spanish capital after arriving from Brazilian club Flamengo as an 18-year-old.
Then-Blancos coach Julen Lopetegui decided that the best place for Vinícius to adapt to European - and in particular Spanish - soccer would be with Real Madrid Castilla in the Spanish third tier, where the Brazilian worked with Santiago Solari, the man who promoted him to the first team in his brief - but intense - spell in charge. In just five matches with Castilla, in which he scored four goals, the Brazilian scored showed signs of the personality, talent and spirit that we now know that he possesses. Atlético Madrid B captain Tachi bit Vinícius on the back of the head in his very first appearance; a novel way to try to stop a player from running riot.
Real Madrid club legends the youngest players to play 200 games
Vinicius is the third youngest player to reach 200 games for Real Madrid after club legends Raúl, whose 200th appearance came when he was 21 years, five months and 22 days old in a 1-0 defeat away to Real Oviedo in 1998) and Iker Casillas, who did so at the age of 22 years, four months and 26 days. The Brazilian will clock in at 22 years, six months and 18 days old.
Had he not suffered a serious injury against Ajax, which kept him out of action for a couple of months, he could have reached the 200 milestone even sooner. Upon his return, then-head coach Zinedine Zidane was reluctant to throw him back in immediately but his unwavering faith in his ability and resilience soon saw him regain his place in the starting line-up. But it took until last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s first after returning to the Madrid dugout, for us to the very best of what we can now say is the ‘real’ Vinícius.
There can be little doubt that Vinícius has established himself as one of Los Blancos’ key players in the last 18 months or so; the ugly duckling has very much turned into a swan. The target of continuous criticism in his early days at the Santiago Bernabéu, the Brazilian completed his own personal turnaround by scoring the winner against Liverpool in Saint-Denis to give Real Madrid their 14th European Cup/Champions League trophy. The winger may not score a more important goal in his career that the one put his name up in lights worldwide.
How many goals did Karim Benzema score in his first 200 games for Real Madrid?
That was Vinícius’ 36th goal for the club and one that nudged him into the conversation for the Ballon d’Or for the very first time; he ultimately finished in eighth place as teammate Karim Benzema (who, incidentally, scored 96 times in his first 200 Real Madrid appearances) picked up the trophy. Vinícius has become Madrid’s unstoppable force (legally, at least, as he has been fouled 3.5 times per LaLiga game on average this season), which means plenty more games and goals will surely keep on coming.
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