Vinicius Junior: The Madridista With Samba Flair
Brazilian footballers are renowned for their capacity to entertain on the pitch; they are recognized for their silk movement, step-overs and the urge to entertain their fans with their skills.
Garrincha, the angel with a bent knee, built a foundation for this identity; he was the carefree player who played with so much joy and happiness which was a habit the late Diego Armando Maradona emulated in his professional career.
His carefree spirit was the liberal side, the conservative and tactical European side kicked against yet raised talents such Zico, Pele, Rivelino, Socrates, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Neymar.
We wonder how Countinho, Kaka, Fernadihno and Ramires adapted to the conservative and technical approach yet we lament on how liberal side of the samba flair that has been missing lately among Brazilians.
I was quite skeptical if it was going to return to football, as I have always thought it was missing. I never thought it would come back until I saw Anthony of Ajax and Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid bring back the flair.
Vinicius is one of the most improved players of Real Madrid with 12 goals and 5 assist in the last 21 matches of the 2021-2022 seasons compared to the three goals and three assists of the 2020-2021 season in La Liga. He is one of the key players of the team, and his chemistry with Karim Benzema proves to be one of the most dangerous attacking partnerships in Europe.
Vinicius Jose Paixao de Oliveira Junior, the player from Sao Goncalo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is known for tormenting defensive lines with his blistering pace, sublime dribbling, technique and explosive acceleration and close control of the ball at speed.
His physical strength and trickery of the ball is his strongest weapon, but the uniqueness of his game is the samba flair he brings to the pitch.
In a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation, he can play anywhere in the front line, either as a left or right winger, and his explosiveness and his ability to take on defenders reminds one of prime Ronaldinho considering his nimble movement on the pitch.
After his stint in Flamengo, scoring 11 goals out of 50 appearances, he moved to Real Madrid in 2018 as a kid with world-class potential coming into the club at the age of 18 years old. He was moved to Real Madrid Castilla under Julien Lopetegui’s reign at the time before being sacked after a loss to Barcelona, with Santiago Solari replacing Lopetegui.
He came on as a substitute against Atletico Madrid for his debut on September 29, 2018, before scoring his first goal against Real Valladolid on November 3, 2018. He scored his first Champions League goal nearly a year later, in a 3-1 win against Club Brugge on December 11, 2019.
Three months later, his first El Clásico goal came in a 2-1 win against Barcelona. The Brazilian scored important goals, but one thing that restricted him from reaching his potential was inconsistency in the final third despite being a skillful and explosive player.
Zinedine Zidane took note of this deficiency and placed him under the tutelage of Karim Benzema with Eden Hazard being unavailable at the time due to injuries, and we saw a different Vinicius scoring, assisting and building an emphatic understanding with Benzema in a partnership that seems to be improving.
Carlo Ancelloti’s return as Real Madrid manager has raised the standard, with Vinicius taking the leap to the world-class level. Having completed 65 dribbles in the 2021/2022 season according to OptaJose, Vinicius Junior is a great dribbler, with an improved goal-scoring ability and ratio for 3 to 12 goals, it is clear he has improved leaps and bounds.
Racking up 5 yellow cards shows how much he needs to work on his defensive side, as committing unnecessary fouls and maintaining composure is another side of his game that must be attended for a player who has the tendency to be a complete player on the pitch.
Vinicius Junior brings out the samba flair in his movement and touch of the ball; his dancing skills on the ball and trickery remind fans of the countless carefree Brazilian footballers who have adapted to the relatively conservative and tactical approach of European Football.
By: Ogunniyi Abayomi / @sandrobayo
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport