MADRID – Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr. praised Barcelona’s Argentine Lionel Messi as an exceptional player, but insisted he was not as a figure to be afraid of.
The two Spanish clubs are to face off twice in a short period of time, starting with the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Real Madrid is the host.
“He (Messi) is an incredible player but he scares no one, we are ready to face him,” the 18-year-old said.
The teams are tied 1-1 after the first leg.
The second clash is in La Liga, scheduled for next Saturday March 2, also at Madrid’s home ground.
“The Clasico is always a beautiful game, always the best game to play in. We are prepared for what is coming and to win. They are two very important games and we have them in one week,” he added.
Vinicius said Real Madrid had the best players in the world, adding that they were are capable of defeating their archrival Barcelona and reach the Spanish cup final.
Real Madrid’s head coach Santiago Solari on Jan. 26 praised Vinicius as the talented youth has become a key player for the Spanish team in recent matches.
Vinicius, who started the season with Madrid’s B-team, has been putting in outstanding performances and becoming both a reference for his team’s attack and a headache for rival defenses at the same time.
“His adaptation has been very fast up to now,” Solari said at a press conference in Madrid on the eve of his team’s La Liga matchday-21 away contest against Espanyol at RCDE Stadium.
“He is very young, he is 18-years-old and he has made an adaptation to a new country, a new language, friends, a new neighborhood and soccer culture, thanks to the team’s support, of mature players,” Solari added.
The Argentine coach also stressed that the club has received a player as young as Vinicius very well, which has been the key for the Brazilian to “show his talent in each game,” adding they should “continue looking after the player so that he can experience constant growth.”
Meanwhile, Messi notched on Saturday his 50th career hat-trick and assisted on another goal in FC Barcelona’s 4-2 away win over Sevilla in La Liga.
Barcelona went down on the scoreboard on two different occasions, but a clinical Messi led his team back and made a big statement ahead of the two upcoming Clasicos.