MADRID – Real Madrid’s Argentine head coach Santiago Solari defended on Friday Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior against criticism over the player’s lack of goal scoring.
The 18-year-old Vinicius Jr. has played well recently, so well in fact that his national team has called the young player up to compete against Panama on March 23 and the Czech Republic on March 26 in place of Neymar, yet despite the forward’s talents he has failed to do the most important thing any player can do: score goals.
“I like to look at the positive things that football players do. He has many positive things, such as his youth, freshness, directness, ability,” Solari said of Vinicius Jr. at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash against arch-rival Barcelona.
Since joining Madrid in 2018, Vinicius Jr. has put in a total of 26 appearances with the first team across all competitions and his play has made the Brazilian a headache for opposing coaches to plan against.
“There are so many things in such a short space time. Improving what can be improved is his work and that of those around him. But I look at all the good things,” the Argentine coach added.
Yet, the deficit of goals is concerning to fans and pundits alike, as Vinicius Jr. has managed to score only three goals this season, the most recent of which came in Madrid’s 3-0 home win over Alaves on Feb. 3.
And although he had several scoring chances against Barcelona in Wednesday’s second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal, Vinicius Jr. was unable to capitalize on any of them.
On the other end of the pitch, a clinical Barcelona made the most of a few scoring chances to prevail 3-0 over host Madrid, advancing into the final, in its quest for a record extending 31st Copa del Rey title.
Ahead of Saturday’s Clasico, Madrid holds the third spot of La Liga table with 48 points, nine points behind the leader Barcelona.