Real Madrid v Man City: Pictures
For years, Real Madrid relied on the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo to win them the Champions League. And Vinicius Jr continued to show he’s the natural heir to the veteran’s throne with a sensational strike against Manchester City on Tuesday night. Though Kevin De Bruyne earned a draw for the visitors with a sublime goal of his own, the first effort is certainly one still worth talking about…
In the years since Ronaldo upped and left to join Juventus back in 2018, Karim Benzema has stepped up to carry the mantle and become the talisman of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
But Vinicius Jr is rapidly approaching superstar status, if he’s not there already that is.
Real struggled to impose themselves in the first half of their match against City, with Pep Guardiola’s side seeing more of the ball and creating the better opportunities.
Had it not been for Thibaut Courtois, the defending champions could even have found themselves behind.
But sometimes, in matches of this magnitude, it takes just a moment of magic for deadlocks to be broken.
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And it was Vinicius who provided it, with the Brazil international’s unstoppable strike in the 36th minute enough to put his side ahead.
For years, Real were used to having Ronaldo cut in from the left and finishing with aplomb.
That was why were able to claim four Champions League trophies with the 38-year-old in their squad, making Los Blancos the best team on the planet once again in the process.
Ever since Ronaldo’s departure nearly five years ago, Real haven’t quite carried the same fear factor – despite their obvious brilliance.
Yet Vinicius is a player everybody should fear – with the Brazil international undisputedly one of the best players on the planet.
When Real signed the Samba star in 2017, when the forward was just 16, many were stunned at his huge £38million price tag.
Fast-forward to now, and nobody is doubting Vinicius and his vast talent any more.
He has now scored seven goals in Europe’s top-tier club competition this season, with only Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland managing more.
And Vinicius, after his heroics against Liverpool both this season and last, is firmly on the right path to the very top.
While that’s the case, however, he wasn’t the only player who stood tall for Real as they battled to keep City at bay – for the most part.
Courtois was as solid as ever in goal, with the Belgium international making good saves from Rodri and De Bruyne over the course of the contest before his compatriot’s opener.
David Alaba proved his worth once again, with a last-twitch tackle to deny Haaland particularly impressive.
Dani Carvajal was immense, managing to successfully nullify the threat of Jack Grealish, while Federico Valverde was excellent with his defensive work.
And golden oldies Luka Modric and Toni Kroos wound back the years with yet another vintage display in the middle of the park.
The result means the tie is very much in the balance ahead of the second leg next week.
But few would bet against Real reaching yet another final, with either AC or Inter Milan lying in wait for the showpiece event in June.
For City, they’ll fancy their chances of going through – especially given how they’ll have the Etihad Stadium cheering them on.
But for all their home advantage for the second showdown, Vinicius is certainly a player who will be difficult to stop.
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