Losing both Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer always threatened to make this season an incredibly difficult one for Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, nobody imagined the reigning European champions would be in full-blown crisis mode by the end of October.
Julen Lopetegui, Zidane’s successor at the Bernabeu, has already been sacked and replaced by Santiago Solari after a dismal start to the 2018-19 campaign.
The team have struggled to score goals since Ronaldo left the club for Juventus. It was confirmed last month, in the game against Levante, that Madrid had entered the worst goal drought in the club’s history.
When Marcelo finally scored in the second half, it had been 481 minutes - just over eight hours - since the club’s previous goal.
Some people claimed Ronaldo’s departure would finally allow Gareth Bale to emerge from the Portuguese superstar’s shadow and become the main man at the Bernabeu.
However, the Welshman, who scored two goals in last season’s Champions League final against Liverpool, has struggled to fill the huge void left by Ronaldo.
The famously impatient Madridistas even jeered Bale when he was subbed off for Lucas Vazquez at 0-0 against Real Valladolid on Saturday.
The 29-year-old is not producing match-winning performances week-in, week-out like Ronaldo used to - and Madrid fans made their feelings crystal clear at the weekend.
They want a hero to rescue them and believe Vinicius Jr could well be that man.
The 18-year-old, who arrived from Brazilian club Flamengo in the summer, came on in the game against Valladolid for Marco Asensio with just over 15 minutes remaining and made a significant impact.
It was his shot which resulted in Kiko Olivas’s own goal 10 minutes after he entered the fray. Sergio Ramos then made sure Madrid picked up a precious three points from the penalty spot.
Madrid fans, who wanted Vinicius to start over Bale even before the game against Valladolid, will now be even more desperate to see the Brazilian in the starting line-up over the Wales international.
However, Spanish football journalist Euan McTear has raised a point about the Vinicius v Bale debate which is extremely hard to disagree with.
“Vinicius Junior hit an off-target shot off a defender and it went in,” he tweeted. “Gareth Bale has scored in Champions League finals, Clásicos and other massive games.
“Let's leave the ‘Should Vinicius start instead of Bale?’ debates for another year.”
Indeed, it’s probably important to note that Vinicius’s shot that led to the own goal was flying out for a throw-in. He was incredibly fortunate that the ball ricocheted off Olivas and ended up in the back of the net.
The Brazil Under-20 international is so young and still has an awful lot to learn, even though it’s patently clear that he’s a wonderful talent.
Bale, on the other hand, has shown on countless occasions during his Madrid career that he *can* produce the goods in big games.
Don’t be surprised, Madrid fans, if Bale ends up saving you in more games this season than Vinicius does.
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