Following Tuesday’s thrilling 1-1 draw between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Bernabeu, Vinicius Junior and Erling Haaland enjoyed a moment.
But that was pretty much the only time the two players were even, as Vinicius Jr. easily won the first leg of a Champions League semi-final between two of the best players in the world of football. After 36 minutes of Man City dominance, the Real Madrid winger brilliantly put his team ahead with a breathtaking goal from 20 yards out that beat Ederson.
Since the March international break, Vinicius Jr. has now scored or provided an assist in every game he has participated in, including Sunday’s triumph over Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final. Haaland, meanwhile, has gone two games without scoring, which is nearly full-on goal drought territory for the sensational striker.
Vinicius Jr., who demonstrated his worth in yet another crucial game, will go with far more accolades, just as he did in the Champions League final the previous year.
Even at age 22, the Brazil is impressive and was a constant pain in Kyle Walker’s side. He scored a fantastic goal against the flow of play by taking advantage of a strong run by teammate Eduardo Camavinga.
Haaland even had a better chance to score during the game, but he was twice denied from scoring positions. Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid was there to stop Vinicius Jr. as he received the ball on the left side of the box minutes before his goal.
Center-back David Alaba expertly timed his slide challenge to stop Haaland from making a greater effort in the second half. For the Norwegian powerhouse, who also battled against Leeds on Saturday and was unable to add to his remarkable tally of 51 goals in all competitions this season, it may have felt like déjà vu.
Pep Guardiola, the manager of Man City, commented on Haaland’s performance to BT Sport, saying that “the pockets and distances between the central defender and full-backs were occupied.” Erling found it challenging. He was agile and had opportunities.
Alaba’s partner, Antonio Rudiger, also did well to prevent Haaland from having any success in front of goal, and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti showered praise on all of his defenders. “We played well defensively. Rudiger performed well against Haaland, and the midfield was in charge, according to Ancelotti.”We are pleased with the good performance and highly motivated for the upcoming match.”
In the second leg, which will take place in Manchester on Wednesday, both Haaland and Vinicius Jr. will undoubtedly mention in the same sentence as Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, and other current true superstars in world football. In what is a closely contested match, both players will aim to make a crucial difference.