A stunning statistic about Vinicius Jr. emerged this week in analysis of Real Madrid’s win over Braga on Tuesday night.
He assisted on both goals in the 2-1 win and has now racked up 18 assists in his 48 games in the competition – more than Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
Somehow lost in all the talk about the Brazilian – a showman to his fans, a petulant diva to his critics – is that, apart from Jude Bellingham, he is not only Madrid’s most explosive attacker, but also their most likely assist provider.
Vinicius’ performance in Portugal on Tuesday was a reminder that his comeback was perfectly timed for the Clasico. He played with himself at times to avoid suffering a repeat of the hamstring strain he suffered at the end of August, but just as the Clasico began to loom on the horizon, he hit the ground running again.
He has been involved in five goals so far in October. In big games against Osasuna and Napoli he got two goals and an assist. Against Sevilla there were six successful dribbles. And then there were those two more assists in Braga in midweek.
Vinicius Jr. appears to be back in full swing for Real Madrid ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico
The Brazilian has scored crucial goals and is also Real Madrid’s most likely assist provider
Vinicius has already reached a strong agreement with summer signing Jude Bellingham
Your browser does not support iframes.
The second of those goal passes went to Bellingham and their partnership continues to thrive. Don’t believe the hints given to him by the arrival of a contender for his “best player on the team” status.
Vinicius hit it off with Karim Benzema, who once mocked him in front of teammates and rolling television cameras, so it was easy to strike up a friendship with Bellingham.
Getting him to play better works for him, and with Bellingham now pushing into defense from deep, that can only open up space and opportunities for the Brazilian.
The two also get their money’s worth off the pitch. The worst thing about the injury Vinicius suffered at the end of August was that it put him out of action; The second worst thing was that it meant he couldn’t join Bellingham, Aurelian Tchouameni, Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga on a group match day at the Verde Beach Club in Saint-Tropez to celebrate the victory. Madrid’s young stars are a group of brothers who look after each other on and off the pitch.
He is so happy at the club that, despite the racist insults he has suffered in recent seasons at some venues, including the Camp Nou, he has never thought of leaving.
He was unhappy with the lack of action, tweeting: “Condemnation is not enough.” “This has been happening for a long time but still no action has been taken to end this problem of racism.”
But when he was verbally abused during the away game at Sevilla last week, the home club immediately responded against the perpetrator and Vinicius applauded their reaction while also releasing photographic evidence of another person responsible.
And when Barcelona club spokesman Mikel Camps tweeted on social media in the middle of the week: “This is not racism, he deserves a slap because he is a clown,” condemnation was unanimous.
Eduardo Camavinga, Bellingham and Vinicius are part of a young group of brothers at the club
Vinicius was once again subjected to racist abuse during a game against Sevilla last weekend
The 23-year-old star questioned the lack of action to tackle racist abuse in Spain
The tweet was hastily deleted and Barcelona director Rafa Yuste said on Wednesday: “If Vinicius listens to me, I’ll tell him that something like this won’t happen again.”
A respected radio presenter on Spain’s biggest late-night sports show described Camps as “idiots of the day”. It has become clear that no amount of so-called unnecessary transgressions can justify the use of racism to insult a player.
This did not help calm pre-match tensions and, in response to Camps’ tweet, it was announced that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would not be attending the game.
Perez also did not feature in the last two Clasicos at the Camp Nou and the atmosphere had already been marred by allegations that Barcelona had paid off a referee boss for 17 years.
Barcelona also took offense at Madrid’s immediate addition of their name to the list of plaintiffs in the case against them – they certainly showed no signs of fraternal loyalty to the Superliga.
There will be no pre-match lunch between the two clubs, while Vinicius will inevitably be mocked on the pitch. Barcelona’s Ilkay Gundogan has even suggested that part of him is happy to be his rival’s public enemy number one as long as the attention doesn’t turn to racist insults.
There seems to be great respect between him and Ronald Araujo. He is again closely monitored by the player.
Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez will not take part in the Clasico due to tensions with Barcelona
Vinicius will renew his battle with Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo in Saturday’s El Clasico
The Uruguayan was moved to right-back in recent Clasicos so that he could better stop Madrid’s star player. Vinicius’ role has changed somewhat this season as Madrid play without a centre-forward.
His starting position is more central and so Araujo could remain in the middle of Barça’s back four – whatever formation the two are in, they won’t be far apart and their rivalry has taken on shades of Bobby Moore versus Pele, even if neither is the case However, he is on the same level as the two former players.
As far as Clasico rivalries go, their sparring may not compare to Messi versus Ronaldo, but nothing could ever match it.
In a duel without his two biggest protagonists and looking for someone new who can steal the biggest show in the world, Vinicius has been thrust into the spotlight in recent seasons, and there’s nothing to suggest this Saturday will be any different.