Last Tuesday, after Haaland signed five goals against Leipzig, Movistar published a survey on its social networks asking for "the best player in world soccer." Curiously, there was no sign of the current world football champion, Leo Messi. The candidates were the Norwegian striker himself, who was the undisputed winner after almost ten thousand votes, Mbappé and... Vinícius (Sao Gonçalo, 2000). Beyond the criteria for choosing the finalists, more or less accurate depending on the color of the shirt, what no one can refute is that the Brazilian has been climbing the world ladder for a season and a half, knocking on the doors of the best.
"He is an extraordinary player, who makes a lot of difference and I like him very much," Xavi Hernández praised him. With Benzema weighed down by physical problems, Vinícius emerges as Real Madrid's main threat at the Camp Nou this Sunday. As the great hope of the whites to get back on the League train with a victory that sows doubts in their greatest rival. And, for this, the Brazilian is called to play a fundamental role.
At just 22 years old, Vinícius has already faced Barça twelve times, scoring twice against them. He made his debut in the middle of the pandemic, in a classic almost ghost league played in Valdebebas. And he repeated in the Super Cup two years ago in Arabia, in a duel that Valverde would end up deciding in extra time.
But in recent times a stone has gotten into his shoe. A Uruguayan stone that responds to the name of Ronald Araújo, the only defender in the world who right now boasts of knowing how to tame a runaway horse like the young Real Madrid star. Merit of the footballer but also of Xavi himself, very skilful detecting his qualities and courageous in moving him from the center to the side. "I'm considering putting him on the right," Carlo Ancelotti joked in the preview, with a touch of humor and a hint of frustration, aware that Araújo has taken the measure of his protégé.
Vinícius landed in the capital from Flamengo with a band of great promise and did not have an easy start. His ability to dribble, which is still intact to this day, contrasted with his disastrous ability to finish plays. But, oblivious to the outside noise, which was increasing day by day even at the Santiago Bernabéu itself, the Brazilian worked to improve and last season he was able to exploit all his talent, admiring the world of football. He scored 17 goals in 35 league games, a figure that he garnished with 13 goal passes, becoming a luxury partner for the Benzema Ballon d'Or. And, in the Champions League, he finished a fantastic course by scoring in the final against Liverpool at just 21 years old.
His start this season was just as extraordinary. Seven goals in the first ten League and Champions League games. So much so, that the anger of Real Madrid for his absence among the finalists for the FIFA The Best award was monumental. The club, in protest, just sent Emilio Butragueño to the gala held in Paris. The expectations with the Brazilian escaped any table. "He is the best in the world one on one," Araújo fed before today's classic.
But Vinícius's goalscoring production has stopped suddenly. Three goals in the last 17 league games confirm this. In addition, he has gone five league classics in a row without scoring although, curiously, Real Madrid has won four of them. So the duel at the Camp Nou is an unbeatable opportunity for him to vindicate himself before the world and confirm that he has come to stay. And also to show his more mature face, away from the piques with the defenders, unfortunate the images in Mallorca for example, and oblivious to the insults from the stands, even more unfortunate. Vinícius is the striker who learned to score and wants to continue growing.