Vinícius and Real Madrid, that was love at first sight. On the other hand, most of them are like this 18-year-old wing-winger.
Vinícius José Paixão de Oliveira Júnior is one of those people you watch football for, and none of those who make their talents a secret. He waits left on the sideline for the ball – and then it goes off. Like the autumn afternoon against Real Valladolid, where the fate of the season turned.
It was the first league game after the 1-5 at FC Barcelona, the fall to ninth place in the table, the change of coach Julen Lopetegui on Santiago Solari. It was cold, and it was scary: listless, disillusioned, sometimes hostile. Until a quarter of an hour before the end came Vinícius.
His third brief in the Primera División, and he made equal operation, called the ball, moved from the left into the box, held on. His shot failed completely, but was deflected by a defender at 90-degree angle to the opening goal. The hit was as absurd as the message was evident: With this boy, the gods have something in mind.
Real would be the leader in a "Vinícius table"
Since that afternoon Real Madrid have collected more points than leaders Barcelona. You could call it the "Vinícius table". Just as the newspapers like to write about the "Vinícius effect". Because his energy, his carefreeness, his laugh revived the rotten soul of the crew. And because his football makes them more unpredictable, more dazzling too. The Champions League defending champion beguiles before the first knockout round at Ajax Amsterdam (21 clock, live ticker SPIEGEL ONLINE, TV: Sky and Dazn) again to such an extent that one considers a retirement impossible in Spain.
The "Vinícius era" sees the sports league "As" close to the club. At least the super talent is on the way to the first football star born in 2000. His ease in dribbling is similar to that of the young Neymar, of which he has so far, however, the renunciation of the unnecessary. He always looks towards goal and accelerates every turn. Imposing is not only his own pace, but also the one that he gives the ball in his passes, from every situation and foot position out.
What else is missing? Decision-making security, also and especially in the financial statements. At best, only a theme of maturity. But he has given in his 1220 competitive minutes eleven assists (seven of them in the Copa del Rey), more than any Real teammate in the full season.
Coming of age in July 2018, since January in the starting eleven
Vinícius comes from a complicated neighborhood in the city of São Gonçalo on the Guanabara Bay opposite Rio de Janeiro. His outstanding equipment has long been known. After the South American Under-17 Championship, Real signed him up for 45 million euros (61 million including commissions for agent and family). For more than a year he stayed with his youth club Flamengo. In July, he celebrated his 18th birthday, came to Madrid immediately, trained immediately with the stars, but initially played in the second team, which then coached Solari.
What nobody could count on is a matter of course on a big stage. In January, Solari finally let him off the leash and promoted him to the tribe. Since then, he has been through this unique phase of a young footballer's first doubts, crises and injuries; the butterflies in the stomach. The time, which was not granted to a club member like Martin Ödegaard who was so hyped up in the beginning. The cross-section of the Norwegians parked in the Dutch provinces makes it clear that something extraordinary is happening in Madrid.
Most recently, Vinícius passed the two toughest rehearsals for a real pro in half a week, in Barcelona and Atlético. He knew exactly what to do, again waiting for his opponents on the sideline, and then taking them by surprise, introduced several chances, provoked yellow cards and a penalty. After Real's 3-1 derby victory, compatriot Casemiro spelled out what many of these days are thinking, "If he's like this at age 18, think about what he'll do with 20."
Veteran chroniclers are already drawing parallels to the recent teenage sensations in a royal guise: striker Raúl and goalkeeper Casillas. At that time they were still from their own youth, but young football has long been globalized. If things go on like this with Vinícius, then he will also be a success pioneer of the new strategy of clubs like Real or FC Bayern, who will not shy away from spending on international talent in order to catch the stars of the future themselves.
For now, this teenager has already done something that until recently seemed unthinkable. A name suddenly barely falls in Madrid. But one can mention it again: On Vinícius' left wing position played before Cristiano Ronaldo.