Vinícius Júnior playing a break-out season with Real Madrid.

 Vinícius Júnior playing a break-out season with Real Madrid.

Real Madrid are clearly looking like the side to beat for any team in Spain that wants to win the La Liga title.

After 17 matches, the side from the Spanish capital have 42 points – Sevilla in second place are on 34 points, albeit with a game less. Real Betis are third on 33 points.

One of the reasons why Real Madrid are in such a strong position and are challenging for the title, is the form of a 21-year-old left winger, who is enjoying a breakthrough season.

Vinícius Júnior, joined Real Madrid from Brazilian club Flamengo in July 2018, shortly after his 18th birthday. The Spanish giants had signed the teenager a year before, but the transfer was only allowed to take place once he turned 18.

In his first three seasons, the Brazilian was little more than a bit-player for Los Blancos and despite featuring in many games, he did so mainly coming on from the bench.

Not surprisingly, his goal tally was not particularly high. He scored one goal in 18 appearances in his first season, three goals from 29 appearances in his second and a further three goals in 35 games last season.

Despite only having played 17 La Liga games so far this season, he is already on 10 goals – three more than in the entire three previous seasons together. He also has a further five assists, including both in last weekend’s 2-0 victory in the El Derbi Madrileño against the current champions Atlético.
Since joining the club, he has worked with three different coaches, but he credits present coach Carlo Ancelotti with helping him turn into one of the star players in the Real side.

“They’ve all helped me – [Santiago] Solari, [Zinedine] Zidane and now Carlo. With him, I have more confidence, more minutes, more time to do things right. After three years training a lot, it has really helped, but now Ancelotti has arrived and has given me the confidence I need.

“Confidence is important for all players, but now I think I’m ready for this role. Before, I don’t know if I was, but now I am. I am prepared to be at the top and continue to help the team for a long time and many seasons.”

For his part, Ancelotti has returned the praise, saying after a win against Sevilla in which the forward scored a fantastic goal: “He has shown his quality in something he hadn’t shown before.

“It’s another step towards being the best in the world. What’s important is that he is concentrated on being effective in the game.”

Football fans in Zambia, will be able to catch the games live and only on TopStar’s ST channels.

Alice Nachilembe

Alice Nachilembe is a Journalist who yearns for a better country with leaders being accountable to their mandate without oppressing the governed.