Carlo Ancelotti praised Vinicius Junior’s performance in Wednesday’s Club World Cup win over Al Ahly as the Real Madrid striker managed to ignore the recent furore around him.
Vinicius has become a regular target of racist abuse from fans this season, with images on social media appearing to show discriminatory comments directed at him during Madrid’s 1-0 defeat by Real Mallorca on Sunday.
La Liga opened an investigation into that incident the following day, although it was by no means the first example of Vinicius’s abuse of this term.
The 22-year-old was the target of racist chants in Madrid’s two matches against Atletico Madrid, while LaLiga filed hate crime charges with Spanish courts after similar incidents in December’s match against Real Valladolid.
Subsequently, Ancelotti insisted that such treatment is indicative of a broader problem in Spanish football.
Vinicius went on to play a star role as Madrid beat Al Ahly 4-1 in Rabat to reach the Club World Cup final, and Ancelotti was asked if being away from Spain helped him feel more comfortable at the field.
“He likes to play football to the maximum wherever he is, always,” Ancelotti said of the 22-year-old, who put Madrid ahead on one of his four tries and also created three chances.
“Today, he has always tried. He played a complete game, he was always dangerous and he scored a fantastic goal.
“It has been the Vinicius that you have seen in many games. He has once again shown what he is, and that is a great player ”.
Luka Modric saved a late penalty on Wednesday as Madrid led 2-1.
In the end, his miss mattered little, as Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas both scored in stoppage time to complete a resounding victory, and Ancelotti isn’t going to dwell too much on the Croat’s miss.
“I have to pick better shooters,” Ancelotti joked.
“Sometimes they fail. Luka usually does well, and you have to choose the best. I have made it very clear: Karim [Benzema]Modric and, when the others are not there, [Marco] Asensio [are the main takers].
“It’s difficult to train on penalties. Environmental factors cannot be replicated in training.”
Arribas’ late goal was the 21-year-old’s first senior goal for Madrid, and his impact from the bench was notable due to his youth squad status.
The young homegrown players have struggled to gain minutes for Los Blancos this term, particularly in LaLiga, with Eduardo Camavinga the only player under 21 to make a top-flight appearance for them in the 2022-23 campaign.
However, Ancelotti emphasized that young players are not forgotten.
“The quarry is a very important aspect, nobody forgets the quarry players,” he said. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not easy to give them minutes because the level of the first team is very, very high.
“We are evaluating [the young players]They are progressing. The academy coaches are doing a great job and [the young players] soon he will be in the first team.
“But this team has won the Champions League, it is a very good team.”
Madrid will face Al-Hilal this Saturday in the Club World Cup final.