Real Madrid were shocked by Sheriff in the UEFA Champions League as the Los Blancos faced a 1-2 defeat against the newbies at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Despite losing the match, Real Madrid did put up a valiant performance as expected of them and dominated the whole game mostly. But the best performer among their ranks was none other than their 21-year-old gem, Vinicius Jr.
Vinicius has a flying start to the season under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. He has already scored five goals in the La Liga being the second-highest goal scorer in the team and also set up his teammates twice, being directly involved in seven goals for Real Madrid.
Even last week in the UCL against Sheriff, Vinicius put up a fine performance but sadly ended up on the losing side that night. However, with every single passing matchday, he makes sure that people are aware of the talent he possesses.
We look at his stats from the match to dig deeper.
Predominantly a left-winger, Vinicius started on the left-wing in the 4-3-3 formation of Ancelotti – his preferred position. He played mostly in the opposition half, seldom dropping off deep to receive balls in his own half. He spent most of his time near the left side of the penalty area, drifting inside at times and staying out wide to provide width most of the times – the red and orange areas in the above picture shows that. Vinicius was a constant menace on the left flank for the Sheriff defence while trying to dribble his way into the box to make things happen. He even won his team the penalty from which Madrid scored their only goal.
Vinicius was the most active and efficient attacking player for Los Blancos in the match. He took the most number of shots in the match (5). But the thing which catches the eye is that he attempted a total number of 16 dribbles in the match. He kept the defence constantly busy on his side and kept on disturbing them time and again only for them to finally foul him inside the box to award Madrid a penalty. At the age of 21, he is one of the finest dribblers of the ball and he does that at a very high pace which makes him even difficult to defend against.
Apart from his excellent dribbling, Vinicius has always been under constant criticism from people due to his poor finishing and lack of precision inside the box. He has scored a lot of goals in the league this season but failed to convert the shots he took in the match. He took a total of five shots with three off-target and two of them saved by the keeper. The Brazilian failed to get into good goal scoring positions and had a low xG of 0.35. However, being the most threatening Madrid player on the pitch, he should have done better in front of goal.
He played the majority of his passes near the edge of the box on the left. Most of his passes were made with an attacking intent where he tried to link up with teammates, tried to play little one-twos and also trying to set up shots for others. The winger played a lot of through balls into the box for others to run at with xT as high as 0.3660. Providing the width on the left for the majority of the game, he drilled in a lot of crosses into the box as well.
Even after playing such incisive passes, Vinicius had a low xT due to a considerable amount of sloppy passing during the match. However, without any doubt, he had the best xT from dribbles with 0.101 with most of his dribbles being successful.
Vinicius Jr was by far the most creative and threatening player on the pitch for Real Madrid. He had the mentality and intent to make something happen for his club under such a pressure situation at the age of just 21. These are the attributes that make a great player. A pacy dribbler with a knack of cutting inside, he is a proper winger and after his stellar start to the campaign, if he can keep his consistency the Brazilian will surely be a future superstar.