With the World Cup just days away, Vinicius Junior has offered his take on being the most fouled player in La Liga, in a recent interview with Reuters.
The Real Madrid forward has stated his uneasiness over being the most targeted player on the pitch, referring to Rodrygo as another affected party. He has also talked about Neymar and how the former Barcelona star has become an idol, not just for him but for any Brazilian youngster.
“What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but it has gone too far,” Vinicius told Reuters. (h/t Diario AS) “Rodrygo and I suffered a lot in those last games and we feared the worst, getting injured and missing the World Cup.”
Vinicius has been the subject of over five fouls attracted per game, which is by far the most by anyone in La Liga. It has left even the Real Madrid camp frustrated, but the attacker understands that is a part and parcel of the game.
“When you start to be an important player, the rivals come for you with more force. You have to learn to deal with it,” he said.
Vinicius went on to mention Neymar as a key figure in helping him make peace with the reality of being the most targeted player on the pitch. “I learned a lot from Neymar when he played for Barcelona, he also suffered a lot. Cristiano (Ronaldo), when he played for Real, too.”
“Neymar went through a lot as a young player, having to play at such an early age and with a lot of pressure. So he is the one who is in charge today of making everything easier for the new generation,” he said.
“It is a dream because we have grown up idolizing him. It is very important what he does as a leader. He knows that by helping us, we can also help him a lot, to have a great World Cup,” he added.
Amidst all the fouls and racial slurs thrown against him by the opposition, though, Vinicius takes it all in a rather optimistic manner, the player reveals.
It was Karim (Benzema) who told me to be calm and have peace of mind, because if the rivals persecute you it is because you are relevant, because they are afraid of you. For this reason, when I catch the ball and go forward, I do it with enthusiasm. Yes, they can hurt me. But I’m up for the challenge,” he said.
Ancelotti sets a target for Real Madrid to achieve before facing Barcelona in La Liga
Real Madrid are currently the frontrunners to win the La Liga title this season, having established a solid lead atop the table.
After 26 matchdays, Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos have built a six-point lead over second-placed Girona and are eight clear of arch-rivals Barcelona in third.
Ancelotti sets a target
While Real Madrid have already faced Girona and Atletico Madrid twice in La Liga already, they still have to face Barcelona for the second time.
And, as per AS, manager Carlo Ancelotti has set a target for his Real Madrid side to achieve before they face off against Xavi Hernandez’s Barça in a few weeks.
Los Blancos host their bitter rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu in the weekend of April 20-21, in matchweek 32.
And before that, Ancelotti wants Real Madrid to reach 80 points in La Liga, which he believes is the safety point for his team to go on to win the title.
As things stand, the Merengues are on 65 points from 26 games and have five matches to play in the league before they face Barcelona.
And for them to achieve Ancelotti’s intended target, they will have to win each of their matches between now and April 20, which will be anything but straightforward.
After all, Real Madrid are set to face Valencia at a hostile Mestalla this weekend before they take on a Celta Vigo side battling to avoid relegation next week.
Following that, they face a tricky Osasuna side away from home and Athletic Club at home while they will also take on Copa del Rey finalists RCD Mallorca.
Ancelotti wants the La Liga title race wrapped up by this point so that the team can face Barcelona without any pressure and instead keep their focus on the UEFA Champions League, provided they progress in the tournament.
It will be easier said than done, but if we have learned anything from Real Madrid this season, it is that they thrive in the face of adversities.