Vinícius and Rodrygo get 1st shot at Champions League glory

Madrid, May 27 (BNA): In the Real Madrid squad full of experienced players striving for a fifth European title, two talented Brazilian youths will get their first chance at glory in the Champions League.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, two 21-year-old strikers who arrived in Spain a year later after being signed as teenage players in Brazil, had had exceptional seasons and will play their first Champions League final on Saturday against Liverpool in the suburbs of Paris.

Vinicius arrived a year ago from Brazilian club Flamengo. He was also signed as a teenager and waited for a while in Brazil before moving to Spain after he turned 18. Both played in Madrid’s “B” team before forming the main team, according to The Associated Press.

Real Madrid hope this is also true, as they have bet on the young Brazilians and spent €45m ($48m) on each of them without really knowing if they can live up to expectations. A similar move to sign another young Brazilian from Flamengo, Reinier, was also unsuccessful. He was playing on loan with Borussia Dortmund.

Vinicius, Madrid’s best dribbler, showed his potential from the start but struggled to establish himself as a key player. He missed a lot in front of goal and the fans started getting upset.

But he has improved significantly this season under the leadership of coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose attacking line shone with the Brazilian, who was playing alongside Karim Benzema.

Vinicius scored 21 goals this season, more than the total in his previous three seasons with the club. He was the second best scorer in the Spanish league with 17 goals behind Benzema, 27.

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The Brazilian also provided some crucial passes in reaching the Champions League final.

Ancelotti said he already knew Vinicius had quality, but was “surprised by the consistency” he has shown this season.

Rodrygo didn’t start out much like Vinicius, but soon became Ancelotti’s player on the bench.

He scored seven goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions, including two against Manchester City, to keep Madrid alive late in the Champions League semi-final second leg. He also scored an important goal against Chelsea in the second leg of the quarter-finals.

It is not yet clear if Ancelotti will start with Rodrygo in Saturday’s final or choose to use midfielder Federico Valverde in a more defensive setup.

Rodrygo said he hopes to get as much time on the field as possible to try and help his team.

Rodrygo and Vinicius, who will benefit from Kylian Mbappe’s decision not to join Real Madrid next season, said they have taken full advantage of the advice of the team’s veteran players, including Brazilians Marcelo and Casemiro.

Marcelo and Casemiro will be among the nine Real Madrid players who stand a chance of winning their fifth Champions League final on Saturday.


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