Vinicius Jr has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player of late, inspiring Los Blancos with his flair and imagination.
His performance in the 3-0 win over Alaves on Sunday - a game in which he scored one goal and set up another - was possibly his best performance in a Madrid shirt so far. He was magnificent.
Subsequently, Madrid fans couldn’t wait to see Vinicius unleashed at the Camp Nou against bitter rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night.
The Brazilian, who doesn’t turn 19 years old until July, lined up on the left-hand side of Madrid’s attack - Cristiano Ronaldo’s old position, of course - alongside Karim Benzema and Lucas Vazquez.
It took him all of five minutes to make his mark, providing the ‘pre-assist’ - if such a thing exists - from which Madrid took the lead through Vazquez.
However, had Vinicius’s decision-making been better, Madrid probably would have entered the half-time break with more than just a one-goal advantage.
In the 12th minute, for example, Vinicius could have laid the ball to Toni Kroos for a simple tap-in but instead opted to shoot. It would have been 2-0 at that point, leaving Barça with a mountain to climb.
Five minutes later, Vinicius had a golden opportunity to shoot but inexplicably passed that ball out of play to nobody.
The teenager’s questionable decision-making and lack of end product led, unsurprisingly, to some rather harsh criticism from fans on social media.
You can understand their frustration but it’s important for everybody to remember just how young he is.
As Spanish football writer David Cartlidge pointed out on Twitter: ‘Seeing the perfection people expect is unrealistic and how you kill young players confidence.’
You won’t find an 18-year-old who always makes the right decisions on the pitch.
Mistakes, including choosing the wrong option, are part and parcel of the learning process.
However, you always won’t find many - if any - 18-year-olds in world football with as much talent and potential as Vinicius, who certainly didn’t have a bad game, despite being subbed off for Gareth Bale with 25 minutes left on the clock.
A video of his individual highlights has emerged (including the frustrating moments) and you can watch it here… (Skip to 16 seconds).
Give it a few years and it’s easy to imagine he’ll be winning Clasicos for Real Madrid.
What a talent.
According to Spanish newspaper AS, Vinicius was also watched by Brazil’s assistant coach Sylvinho during the Clasico.
A debut call-up for next month’s friendly v Czech Republic in Prague now looks inevitable for the youngster.News Now - Sport News