There’s a lot of negativity when people put Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid in the same sentence. After Zidane and Ronaldo left the club, winning their 3rd consecutive and historic Champions League, things took a harsh 180 turn for the club. They started losing games, even against the bottom-feeder teams. A lot of Real Madrid’s big footballers fell under intense scrutiny for showing a sense of complacency in their playing. Resultantly, Real Madrid finished the season without any trophies to their names, much to the disappointment of their fans and patrons. Suffice it to say, Lopetegui’s time at Real will be looked at with a sense of disdain. But there are always small rays of light in the darkest of nights and here those rays of light were Real Madrid’s young players. Players like Alvaro Odriozola, Brahim Diaz and Vinicius Jr. really stepped up to the plate showing what a fantastic youth squad Real Madrid has. These players proved that Real Madrid are sitting on a potential gold mine of potential, especially with 19- year-old Vinicius jr and if they play their cards right and carefully that potential is going to turn into sweet reality.
Hazard’s injury: Making the best of it
Real Madrid’s biggest signing of the past few windows, Eden Hazard is out for a while owing to injury, leaving Vinicius Jr. to play in his stead. So far, while it hasn’t been mind-blowing, he’s looking fairly sharp putting up a nice performance in Real Madrid’s first match. Hazard looks tor return to the squad in time for the match against Villarreal: that is the most hopeful scenario. It’s highly probable that Vinicius will play in the meantime, and in that short amount of time, he has to prove himself not only in the left-wing but other positions as well. It might be tough but it’s a great opportunity for the youngster to dazzle the crowd and fellow players with his skillful dribbles and get creative in terms of passing and awareness. He has to prove himself in other positions because it’s highly unlikely he will get to play a lot of matches in the LW position once Hazard returns, especially as a starter. If he proves to be stronger in multiple positions, he could have a better chance of making the starting XI more often.
Vinicius Jr is a textbook Brazilian footballer who uses his vast array of skills to dribble past his opponents and do damage. He has the pace and acrobatic athleticism to be a great attacker. His passing might be something to work on and his awareness in terms of when to hold to the ball and went to let it go could do with some refinement but there’s oodles of talent there, especially on the offensive end of things. All in all, dribbling is his biggest strength and he completed 2.3 of them last season on average.
Advantage of Zidane’s Management:
Vinicius Jr not only has the advantage to gain a lot of advice from one of the greatest players of all time but can also have an edge because of Zidane’s affinity for rotations. It’s no secret that a large factor in Zidane’s impressive 3-year initial run was his man-management. Players like James Rodriguez, Isco, Alvaro Morata, and Lucas Vazquez to some extent, thrived on the way he kept on rotating players and giving people a chance. This rapid-fire sense of rotation will ensure that Vinicius will get his fair share of chances and the Brazilian will have to utilize them in 2018-19 to get to the forefront. It will be a little tough to gain a spot in the squad with Rodriguez returning and new players like Brahim Diaz entering the fray. He also might have to contend with the new signee, Rodri to make the squad. But despite the vast amount of great and soon-to-be great players, knowing Zidane, Vinicius Jr will have his fair share of game-time and even more so if he manages to prove himself.
Vinicius Jr definitely has the skills and the opportunity to make it into the pinnacle of football. This season’s performance will be crucial, given Real Madrid’s itchy trigger fingers when it comes to offloading and on-loading players. He is in one of the most elite clubs in the world and while the competition is tough at it’s easiest if he manages to weather the storm, it’s a win-win situation for everyone who’s with the club: the fans, the other players and Vinicius himself. It’s not going to be easy. Fans and patrons are expecting a lot, given Zidane’s return and a lot of expensive transfers. Vinicius has to distinguish himself amongst all the new players and even the experienced ones. He has proven to be quite the talent with his flair, pace, and acceleration. He managed to make a big and positive impact last season despite not playing a large chunk of the latter matches because of injury. With the right direction though, Vinicius Jr. could be the next Brazilian player to remind everyone of the Ronaldo-Ronaldinho days. All the pieces are in place and the question will be: Is Potential going to turn into reality?