The fact that Real Madrid excelled so much last season, but is struggling this season, is partly due to the same reason: Vinicius Junior.

Are the defenders still afraid or are they secretly looking forward to it when the high-speed dribbler Vinicius Junior comes at them again?

Real Madrid’s Brazilian winger fills the headlines, as he did last year, but increasingly rarely has it to do with purely sporting content. On the one hand, Vinicius Junior is repeatedly subjected to racist slurs away from home, which are of course unacceptable.

On the other hand, however, he also contributes to several skirmishes himself, which do not happen to be more frequent. During Real’s controversial win at Athletic in Bilbao, the whole thing escalated again to such an extent that even coach Carlo Ancelotti felt compelled to comment in a little more detail afterwards.

“Everyone is putting pressure on him. Opponents, fans, sometimes the referees,” the Italian told Marca, who also defended his player because he was still “very young”. Vinicius is 22 years old and is now in his fifth season with the biggest club in the world.

Last league goal in October

After the Brazilian international had been mature enough to outplay almost every defence last season with 42 direct goal contributions in 52 games (22 goals, 20 assists), he has become entangled in provocative exchanges far too often this season – including with the referees, who award him free kicks less and less frequently.

The sporting output of the royals, for whom Vinicius contributed his last league goal to date on 30 October, has suffered as a result. Since then, he has preferred to try to take clever free kicks instead of mercilessly running away from the opposing full-backs. And he hardly gets them any more. “Talk to me, to me,” intervened coach Ancelotti once again on the sidelines in Bilbao when his protégé, who was arguing with the referee, was once again unable to find an end. Preferences.

Vinicius would undoubtedly do well to concentrate once again only on the way to the goal, which he can reach so easily like hardly anyone else. Preferably in the cup quarter-final against city rivals Atletico on Thursday, whose defenders would be happy to invite the hothead back to the debating club. At the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, at least the fans will be on his side this time.