Vinicius Jr. is Real Madrid's transformative star on the massive stage – with a twist

At the tip of Tuesday night's dizzying 2-2 draw at Bayern Munich, Real Madrid's press officer acted quickly to seek out Vinicius Junior on the pitch and provides him a training shirt.

With the Brazilian half-naked after swapping shirts with Bayern substitute Bryan Zaragoza, it seemed as if the visitors didn't want him to catch a chilly. Because Madrid can't afford something like a scare with their star player, who has just brought his team out of the crisis along with his two goals in the primary leg of the Champions League semi-final.

He made it as number 9 on an evening when the 14-time European Cup/Champions League winner was up against Harry Kane, the striker his coach Carlo Ancelotti had unsuccessfully asked about last summer.

Madrid's interest was not limited to testing Kane and the England captain eventually moved to Bayern from Tottenham Hotspur. Ancelotti's squad as an alternative welcomed the then 33-year-old Joselu on loan, having just been relegated with Espanyol. In an injury-hit season that has seen him miss each centre-backs and strikers, the Italian coach has change into a survival expert.

In the primary part he invented a brand new position for Jude Bellingham, one other summer signing who scored 17 goals in 21 appearances before the Christmas break. In the second half, he helped Vinicius Jr. reach a brand new level while regularly centering his position and even making him the leader of Madrid's forwards.

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Vinicius Jr.'s latest role at Real Madrid: Closer to goal and more revolutionary

Vinicius Jr's first goal last night was the work of a pure striker, a clever run to create space on the back, a clinically cool finish beyond the oncoming Manuel Neuer. The Brazilian ran to the corner flag in celebration, kissed the Madrid crest on his shirt, danced and spread his arms like Bellingham does after scoring, before heading back onto the pitch.

Vinicius Jr. bows to Kroos after the opening goal (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

There he bowed to Toni Kroos, around whom greater than half of his teammates had already gathered. When Kroos played at his former home stadium, his through ball to the goal was something wonderful. Even if he downplayed it afterwards.

“A big compliment to Vini, he offered me the pass with his movement. As far as I know him, he's always flying into space. “The pass wasn’t that special,” said Kroos.

“We train together a lot and know each other very well,” said Vinicius Jr., who became only the fourth man in Champions League history to attain in three consecutive semifinal games.

But Madrid had began the sport badly, very badly. And Ancelotti was very, very offended.

In the tenth minute, he turned around and held up 4 fingers to his son and assistant coach Davide, complaining about how again and again their players had already lost the ball. Substitutes Eder Militao and Dani Ceballos stood up from the bench to strengthen the lead and shout encouragement towards the pitch.

This mood modified suddenly when, about quarter-hour later, Kroos and Vinicius Jr. scored the opening goal with their stunningly easy move. Kroos received the ball in midfield and immediately recognized what was about to occur next and showed his teammate the best way. Vinicius Jr. realized what he meant and carried it out. It got here out of the blue. Bayern were caught out, despite the fact that their head coach Thomas Tuchel had almost predicted it.

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The briefing: Bayern 2 Real Madrid 2 – Advantage Ancelotti and Kroos for Ballon d'Or?

“If you look at their goals or chances and rewind ten seconds, you don’t see them coming,” Tuchel said before the sport.

Bayern got here back strongly within the second half. Leroy Sane's powerful strike caused chaos. On the sidelines, Ancelotti scolded Vinicius Jr. and Aurelien Tchouameni. Four minutes later, as Kane prepared to take the penalty that put the house side 2-1 ahead and his international teammate Bellingham tried to maintain it away, Vinicius Jr. had one other quick meeting with the Ancelottis.

And like so again and again before, the Brazilian led the riot on the massive stage.

Madrid didn't quit, they never do. Their fans, who approached the sport like a final with 4,000 spectators within the away stand on the Allianz Arena, shouted “Hasta el final, vamos Real!” (“Until the end, let’s get real!”).

In the 83rd minute, when Vinicius Jr. found Rodrygo along with his deft feet within the penalty area, there was little question who would take the penalty after he was fouled. Vinicius Jr. had scored from the penalty spot within the El Clasico against Barcelona nine days earlier and would once more assume responsibility. Lucas Vazquez got the ball and pushed away a couple of Bayern players who tried to harass his teammate.

Vinicius Jr. fastidiously set it down and wiped the sweat from his face along with his shirt. The noise was almost deafening.

But Madrid's Brazilian talisman escaped the pressure gently. He kept scoring and went to the corner again to have fun. Objects thrown from the stands landed around him as he capped the moment by pointing to the number 7 on his back – the identical one his idol Cristiano Ronaldo wore for thus long in Madrid.

By firing that penalty past Neuer, he scored 32 goal involvements (21 goals and 11 assists) for Madrid this season, moving one ahead of Bellingham.

According to data provider Opta, he has been directly involved in additional goals within the Champions League than another player because the start of the 2021/22 season (31 in total; 16 goals and 15 assists).

This is Vinicius Jr., a complete player who has developed a lot that he may be the striker Ancelotti wanted last summer.

“I'm very happy to be able to score two goals,” he said on the sidelines after the sport after being named player of the match. “Now it’s time for a magical night at home.”

This all summed up the merits of Ancelotti, his staff and Vinicius Jr.: that they had an idea to shut a niche and develop it so well that a left winger in the course of the game would change into one of the best player in an away game within the semi-finals of the Champions League could be in front.

“Now he has learned to move well without the ball and to move behind his rivals,” Ancelotti said. “And then he’s completely cold in front of the goal.”

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