Vinicius does not have a goal; until you have it. He becomes confused; until ordered. Contrary to the logic that persecutes those who doubt, the Brazilian seems to straighten up, to stand up, the higher he climbs, the closer he gets to the summit and the fall that opens at his feet becomes more dizzying. Against Liverpool, in a Champions League quarter-final marked by fear of absences, after two years of disappointment for Real Madrid, Vinicius packed his best night, a show in which he was half tightrope walker, as always; half killer, as almost never.
Liverpool’s dislocation under Madrid’s control was anticipated by his coach shortly before the game began in front of a television camera: “It’s strange. It’s a training ground, but we have to create an atmosphere in the locker room and bring it to the field, “Klopp said. And yes: they spread a few shouts during the warm-up round, while on the other side of the field the Madrid players completed their routines with more secrecy.
PHOTO GALLERY: The images of the match
The Alfredo di Stéfano is a training ground and it is not a training ground. It has also been the scene on which Zidane promoted the team to its second League, that of the coronavirus, after a streak of 10 games won after leaving confinement. It is a field for training and also a breeding ground for talent, reached by ascending a ramp dotted with huge replicas of the club’s 13 European Cups. In the lower part, that of Paris, in 1956, won at the Stade de Reims. 1957, 1958, 1959 … Until crowning the climb that rests on the legend “Kiev 2018”, the one they beat Liverpool.
A few drops of the atmosphere of the big night were sprinkled by the Liverpool players in their fuss of instructions from the first minutes. And they were completed by the screams from the stands of injured Madrid players, usually silent until the last 20 minutes, last night excited from the first ball. That was the greatest reminder of the absences, of the vertigo that in the previous one anticipated the lack of Ramos and Varane.
Downstairs, Nacho and Militão did not shake their feet when the pressure exits, or their throats. Nacho ordered, Casemiro ordered, and Ramos helped from his seat: “Watch out, Mili, get out!” And also: “Air, air!”
The air was Vinicius, which allowed Madrid to alternate moments of tightening the nuts between screams and screams, of exits adjusted through passageways, with rides in which the whole team took air. After two or three attempts at precision passes at the limit of loss, Courtois, or Militão, or Casemiro, deployed plan b. What in American football would be a hail Mary, a bomb, against Liverpool it was a “dale, Vini”. The ball flew behind Trent Alexander-Arnold and behind the ball Vinicius flew.
The plan eased the entire framework. A throw-in near the corner flag was able to move all of Madrid fifty meters ahead, into a space created by the threat to the Brazilian’s career.
It was not the only thing with which he tortured the Klopp team, who did not see the atmosphere of the European Cup that Vinicius did sniff. The Brazilian also threatened inside the area, even from the head, with a good shot that narrowly escaped. Until Toni Kroos detected a runway for the attacker and launched a homing projectile at him. “Toni is incredible, a legend of the club, with a class … Nobody can play like him,” Vinicius later summarized, who controlled the race between two defenders with his chest, managed to face Alisson and crossed it without hesitation . With an unusual certainty, but in which he seemed drenched. “The outsiders to speak. I always keep working. The teammates give me the confidence I need to score the goals we need, ”he said.
Asensio was also right shortly after, the fourth game in a row scoring, a streak that he had not hooked for four years, an Asensio from another time. As Vinicius seemed like a Vinicius from another world when, already in the second half, he scored again, this time standing inside the area, between defenders, at the first touch. Four shots: two on goal, two goals. A relief that crowned shortly before being replaced by Rodrygo, when after a run-in with Alexander-Arnold, he returned the push without being daunted, which set Ramos on fire: “Very good, Vini, very good! You eat it, bug! ”. He had eaten Liverpool, yes.
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