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Vinicius Jr talks Ancelotti, Modric, Neymar, Raphinha, Tite, dance celebrations at World Cup



Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images

The past year or so has been a hugely memorable one for Real Madrid and Brazil superstar Vinicius Jr. The 22-year-old attacker enjoyed great success at the club, winning the La Liga title, and the UEFA Champions League crown, among other titles.

Now, he has established himself as a key starter for Brazil at the FIFA World Cup 2022 and has been pivotal in their quarter-final run in Qatar.

It has not come easy for the Samba star, who has had to deal with plenty of criticism in the early parts of his career and is constantly being targeted by opposition defenders on the pitch. But he has been able to put it all behind him and emerge as a top star for club and country.

Ahead of Brazil’s World Cup quarter-final tie against Croatia, Vinicius interacted with the media (h/t MARCA), during which he discussed a host of topics ranging from the role of Carlo Ancelotti in his career, to facing Luka Modric in the next game.

Kicking things off, Vinicius thanked the people who have supported him from his native of Sao Goncalo, saying: “I am very happy with all those who helped me, who are proud of where I have arrived. Every day I work harder to make them prouder.”

On having achieved so much in his young career, the Real Madrid superstar said: “I am very happy with the goals I set for my life and with having achieved some of them at the age of 22. I want to keep working as I have done to be here now. I play with the best, in Brazil and at Real Madrid.”

The forward also opened up on how he has managed to establish himself as a regular starter for Brazil at a World Cup no less, stating: “It’s been a normal process. The technical committee and the coach have been giving me what I needed to reach my best level.

“The national team is very complicated, the manager has many options. Every time I came here I went back with something I needed to be a starter.

“I’ve always spoken on the phone with Tite, with Ancelotti, who has also given me a lot of advice to be a starter here. I’m very happy to have started the competition so well, but I don’t want to continue like this until the end.”

Opening up on Ancelotti and Tite, Vinicius added: “I always try to improve, here and at my club. Ancelotti helps me a lot, as does Tite; they are very similar. In every game, I try to be more aggressive in marking, give more assists, score more goals and be more important for the team.”

The Real Madrid forward further highlighted the importance of Ancelotti in his success, claiming that the Italian tactician was a father figure to him.

“He has always given me the confidence and affection I need, he is like a father to me. He does for me and for all the players,” Vinicius said.

Vinicius says Ancelotti is like a father to him (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

“Ronaldo says that Ancelotti was his best coach, and it’s not only in the technical and tactical part, but also in the part of living with the footballer, of dealing with great players. I want to send him a big hug, I’m happy for his affection, he always sends me messages.”

Vinicius also spoke about his Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric, who he will be facing in the quarter-finals of the World Cup this weekend. The 22-year-old insisted that the veteran is constantly helping him learn and evolve, saying:

“It’s always very difficult to play against players with so much quality, and Modric has always taught me a lot, he continues to do so every day so that I continue to evolve. He’s an example, someone 37 years old playing at that level is a rare thing.

“Players like him, Cristiano, Thiago Silva, who are at an age that is no longer normal to perform like that and who are making it normal. I’m happy to play against him and may the best player win.”

Talking about playing and sharing the dressing room with his idol, Neymar, Vinicius said: “It’s a dream come true. I followed his entire career, he had always been my biggest idol and I wanted to do what he did on the pitch.

“Over time he became my friend, today he is like a brother who gives me a lot of advice. Every game, before it starts, he takes all the pressure off me, also Raphinha, Paqueta, Richarlison, the younger players…. He takes it on himself.

“He also has the peace of mind that he can trust us. To be with him is to live a dream that not everyone can. He’s our best player, the idol of the majority here.”

On having to share the responsibility of being the main man for Brazil with Neymar, the Real Madrid ace added: “We are 26 players here and each one takes part of the responsibility so that it is not too heavy for anyone.

“Those who play more will have more responsibility, but nobody is free and I’m not afraid of that responsibility. I want to be at my best so that I can help the team not only with goals, but also by going down to defend, which is also important.”

Vinicius also spoke about Brazil teammate and Barcelona winger Raphinha, backing him to come good and score goals at the World Cup after missing some chances in the past matches.

“It’s normal that he wants to score and hopefully his goal will come at an important moment. He is very calm. Raphinha has done very well,” he added.

Following the criticism he received from some sections in Spain over his dancing celebrations, Brazil have made it a point to pull out different dances each time they score a goal. It has attracted the ire of some critics again, but Vinicius insisted the Selecao will continue doing it.

“The goal is the most important moment in football, in the World Cup we get very happy, the players and the whole country. We still have a lot of celebrations to do, hopefully we can keep doing a lot of dances and playing well to get to the final with this rhythm,” he said.

“People like to complain when they see someone happy… and we Brazilians are always very happy.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid identify two positions that need strengthening in the summer – report



Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

According to reports from Mario Cortegana (h/t Madrid Zone), Real Madrid have two objectives for the upcoming summer transfer window. The centre-forward and the right-wing position are seen as the two positions to be reinforced but no decision has been made yet about making a move.

This comes over and above the Merengues’ pre-existing need for new midfielders and full-backs in the coming windows.

At first sight, it may appear that Los Blancos are well stacked in the final third. In Vinicius Jr, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo Goes, they have three starting quality players who are well-complemented by the likes of Marco Asensio and Federico Valverde.

Yet, Vinicius is the only player on the aforementioned list who can boast of a starting role in a fixed position for at least the next decade.

There is worry over the centre-forward role considering Benzema’s lack of form and fitness throughout the current campaign. With the Ballon d’Or winner already 35, the club need a young reinforcement soon which is evident with the team’s struggle for goals this term.

Los Blancos have already invested heavily in Endrick in this regard. However, that has not stopped them from following established options like Dusan Vlahovic and Erling Haaland as their Brazilian wonderkid will not arrive until 2024.

The right wing is also understaffed despite the presence of young Rodrygo and Fede Valverde. The duo have no dearth of talent but have not managed to click on the wing as well as the manager would have liked.

Thus, it remains to be seen as to who the club targets to strengthen the wing and aim to stretch the play. Given the heavy investment planned for Jude Bellingham, a low-cost option is likely to be considered.

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