Thibaut Courtois,Sergio Ramos,Marcelo,CasemiroandKarim Benzema. These were the only starters who have retained their spot after the 1-0 defeat away toReal Mallorca, whileIscohas returned to starting line-up inReal Madrid‘s last couple of games againstParis Saint-GermainandAlaves.
Eder Militaoalso started in last weekend’s win at theEstadio de Mendizorroza, but the rest of the players from theMallorcadebacle –Alvaro Odriozola,James Rodriguez,Vinicius JuniorandLuka Jovic– have not started since.
The Serbian striker has racked up just 38 minutes of game time since October 19, but he remains optimistic that his fortune will change.
“Zidanetrusts me, eventually I will be able to have more minutes,”Jovicrecently acknowledged.
James, meanwhile, has played a paltry 12 minutes sinceSon Moixafter coming on as a late substitute inLos Blancos‘ 1-0 win away atGalatasaraybefore picking up an injury, which he is still recovering from.
There isOdriozola, one ofReal Madrid‘s worst performers on the Balearic Islands, compounded by his second-half sending off, has not featured since.
Despite the difficult situation that he is currently experiencing at theEstadio Santiago Bernabeu,Viniciushas actually appeared more often than any of the three aforementioned players since theMallorcadefeat, playing a total of 57 minutes.
The reality is thatRodrygo Goeshas won the starting spot on the right wing, which was up for debate coming into the season, and he has even surpassed his compatriot in terms of minutes played.
In the last couple of matches, things have been made tougher forViniciusasZinedine Zidanehas opted to play a four-man midfield in order to bringIscoback into the side, leading toBenzemaand eitherEden HazardorGareth Balestarting in attack.
However, the injuries toHazardandBalemean thatViniciusis one of the favourites to accompanyBenzema, as he hopes to recover the form that he showed in the 2018/19 campaign prior to his injury againstAjax.
The 19-year-old may have featured the most out of the four players highlighted in this piece, but 57 minutes in eight matches is still a poor return for a player who still has a long way to go if he wants to succeed atReal Madrid, something they recognise inside the club.
On Saturday lunchtime,Espanyolvisit theBernabeuin what could be a new starting point forVinicius, so long asZidaneopts for a 4-3-3 system.
WithoutHazardorBaleon the wings,Real Madridare left with limited options asMarco Asensio,Lucas Vazquezand evenJamesare all on the treatment table with the Belgian and Welshman, which could lead toZidaneplayingViniciusandRodrygoalongsideBenzemain attack.
Real Madridhave a very demanding schedule as they bring 2019 to a close, with five matches in a 16-day period, includingEl Clasico.
Thus, the matches againstEspanyolandClub Brugge, withLos Blancosalready having qualified for the last 16 of theChampions League, could be defining moments forViniciusas he looks to once again show the promise that he did last season.
It’s now or never forVinicius.
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