Real Madrid struggled on Monday night against Rayo Vallecano, falling to their first defeat, Vinicius Junior did not score or assist but still found himself in the headlines for his protests and what some are interpreting as provocation.
During the celebration of Eder Militao’s goal, Vinicius appeared to direct his celebration towards the crowd at Vallecas. That came alongside a match full of protests and spats involving the Brazilian and it has become a regular feature of the season to see him involved in tense battles with defenders.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of Real Madrid’s tie with Cadiz on Thursday, Carlo Ancelotti asked for more protection for his forward.
“I agree, it seems that Vini is the provoker and he is the one who receives the most fouls, the most slaps, the most pushes. The reality is different and there is no reason to lack respect for him, either as a footballer or a person. Not just for the players with more quality, you have to have it for everyone. Fair play is much more common in other countries, it might be the most important thing in football.”
During the match against Rayo, Ancelotti was also seen in heated discussion with Vinicius, seemingly telling his forward to calm down.
Again he was asked about Vinicius later on in the press conference and he wrestled with his answer.
“There he has to improve, provoking is not fair play, one enters the field to play football, not to provoke, but of course he can improve because he is young and he will do so. He loves football and plays the best he can.”
“The provocation, it is not a normal, the one who does it is not in the right and it is difficult to teach that… I have to teach him to not get it into it. It is difficult because he thinks that there is no provocation in football.”
Rayo Vallecano defender Ivan Balliu admitted after the match that he had deliberately given Vinicius special treatment. Still, it is significant for Ancelotti to admit that part of the reason for Vinicius’ treatment on the pitch might be down to his player’s temperament.
Regardless of how just the debate is, it appears to be impacting Real Madrid and Vinicius negatively. Teams and players will try to exploit any weakness he has. While Vinicius is within his right to respond in kind, it does not give the impression that he is in control of the situation or is gaining the upper hand from it.