Vinicius Junior rarely passes through a match unnoticed. The Brazilian, for better or worse, is at the heart of matters for Real Madrid, but there is increasing concern about his mentality.
Against Athletic Club on Sunday night, Vinicius failed to win his battles for the most part down the left side, standing out far more for the various altercations with the Basque players.
Carlo Ancelotti complained after the match that Vinicius constantly received extra pressure from opponents and fans, asking for ‘a little more respect’.
Increasingly, these altercations have become a theme of Vinicius this season, gaining him a reputation with other players and fans. Marca have headlined a story ‘The noise switches Vinicius off’ referencing that away from the Santiago Bernabeu, Vinicius is unable to exercise the same influence on games, instead getting bogged down in battles.
While they do reference the fact that Vinicius was involved heavily in the Real Madrid comeback last Thursday against Villarreal, the statistics hold up those concerns.
Since August, the Brazilian has not scored or assisted away from home in La Liga. Given Vinicius is, along with Karim Benzema, their greatest source of goals, it has become a chronic issue for Los Blancos.
While Ancelotti will not want to take the fire out of Vinicius’ game, he will have to channel Vinicius’ temper carefully. Until he learns to control it better, he will continue to be targeted by opposition players.