In the post-confinement League, Rodrygo lived a moment of prominence and Zinedine Zidane was asked in the press room about the Brazilian and the physical development he was experiencing. “He is a lovely and good boy. We take advantage of its qualities. To continue ”, cleared the French coach, always laconic and reluctant to dwell on young people beyond courtesy and education.
Now, the pampering he receives from his successor, Carlo Ancelotti, is warmer. On and off the field. His weight in the team has grown, despite the injuries, and the public words that the boss dedicates to him confirm a greater affection. “I am very satisfied with him because he does everything we ask him to do. He shows good defensive commitment and a lot of quality at the top ”, the white coach praised him a few weeks ago.
About to turn 21 years old, still sheltered in that adolescent face and always in the shadow of Vinicius even though it cost the same (45 million) – he arrived a season later, in the summer of 2019 – Rodrygo’s status has improved significantly in the years. last months. The bet on fast band players has placed him in a favorable position and only the physical accidents in November, with a problem in a thigh and gastroenteritis, have slowed his climb. In the absence of what the immediate future dictates, with him on the right, for the first time in three years in Madrid a close forward bet has been sensed (together with Benzema and Vini) after the continuous change of chips in the recent past due to the injuries and poor performance of plan A (Hazard and Asensio) and the lack of conviction in the Brazilian plan B.
Although that right-handed flank has been occupied by Asensio, Lucas Vázquez and him, the feeling is that Rodrygo starts with an advantage over his teammates to add minutes in this section of the course. Asensio no longer enjoys the favoritism that Zizou did grant him, the Galician must also unfold to help Carvajal on the side, behind is Bale’s physical confusion, and Hazard would be out of place. His football, less noisy than that of his compatriot although more academic, has convinced Reggiolo’s coach.
Like Vinicius, he started August behind the illustrious surnames of the squad. So the bands were Hazard and Bale, owners of a more verbose résumé. The impetus was given by the Champions League in mid-September, in the first round match against Inter at San Siro. The Champions League and Rodrygo, of course. Figure by figure, there is no more clinical player in Europe in the Bernabéu dressing room than him. Since he arrived at Madrid, he has shot 11 times on goal in the top tournament and has scored seven goals. Not counting the penalties (he has not taken any), only six players (Felipe Pardo, Marquinhos, Haller, Plea, Sukur and Piqué) from the entire battalion that have participated in the tournament since 2003-04, according to statistics of Opta, exceeds his average of goals per shots on goal (1.57); and of them, three (Pardo, Plea and Sukur) have achieved it with fewer shots, that is, with less possibility of error. An extraordinary peak of production that contrasts with the garter belt, more mundane: three targets in 18 attempts.
Your favorite prey
Tonight, if the schedule is fulfilled and he appears sooner or later against Inter, he will meet his favorite prey. To the nerazzurri He has nailed them three in the three previous clashes, although the official accounting stole the one from a year ago in Milan for a slight rebound in Achraf. A few weeks later, in Valdebebas, a tight hit ruined the interista comeback (he had equalized 0-2) and this season, on the first day, he came out in the final stretch to embitter a good Inzaghi team, stopped first by Courtois and then struck down by him.
That night in Italy he acted as a hinge in their campaign. Since then, its growth has only been interrupted by admission to the infirmary. The Champions League, in reality, was always his lever. The first title came to him in Europe, in a very tricky clash in Istanbul in October 2019, due to the need to win (Madrid only had one point in two days) and with the name of Mourinho reverberating in Zidane’s ears. And there the French played it with him to the general surprise. He won (0-1) and in the next match against the Turks at home he scored a perfect triplet (both with both legs and a header) in the 6-1 win.
The boy born in the São Paulo municipality of Osaco seeks this season to transcend beyond the European days, although this Tuesday night, for now, he is before his perfect menu: Champions and Inter.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.