Gareth Bale has lost the favor of the club. The Cup classic was the proof that the Welsh star, called last summer to become the banner of Cristiano's succession in Madrid, has fallen into disgrace. The sprinklers drenched the grass of the Camp Nou when the holders chosen by Solari jumped to warm up before a half-empty bleachers. Highway to Hell it echoed in the speakers. Bale was not among the elect. The decision to reserve him on the bench is inconceivable without the support of the board. His place on the far left was taken by Vinicius, who, at 18, became the youngest Real Madrid player to play a classic since Raúl's debut in the 1994-95 season.
The bet for the carioca enjoys all the basics. In the face of Isco's blackout, Asensio's reticence and Bale's repeated injuries and distractions, the impact of the boy weighed on him. Immature but brave, Vinicius arrived in Barcelona with 11 assists and six goals in the 24 matches he has played in all the tournaments. After five minutes he transferred his weight to the biggest match in Spanish football.
Modric opened the game to the left and Vinicius faced Piqué. Suddenly, almost unprepared, the forward found himself in a dream situation. Far from being intimidated by responsibility, I had been savoring the possibility of exhibiting for days. Optimist by nature, man is carried away by the total pleasure that the game produces. Unlike many of his colleagues, who at critical junctures feel gripped by grim considerations and calculations of pros and cons, if the ball is involved do not speculate. Act as if it does not occur to him that he has something to lose. So he faced Piqué for his left profile and, as he saw that he closed it, he turned to the right and crossed a pass to the other side of the area, where he saw Benzema, his best partner. The French controlled, maneuvered, and put tense the pass to the small area, where Lucas came to put the 0-1.
The best of Madrid concentrated on those initial minutes. There was verified an old idea of Solari: to the Barça it is made him more damage hiding the ball to him that waiting for it to counterattack it. In the first divided ball of the night, a forced pass from Busquets to Rakitic, after a clearance by Piqué, Kroos went ahead. The German pressed like all his team, in the opposite field, with a display of remarkable energy. Kroos took the ball and unleashed a long visitor possession. It was a signal. The kind of augural information that often contains the first play of the classic, this time was a favorable indication for Madrid.
In addition to ordering well without the ball, Madrid managed with solvency in the attacks. The 0-1 was the result of a well-worn transition. Until a month ago it was not easy to see the team elaborate with criteria and depth. Until a month ago, the headline on the far left was Bale, an unattractive player, who has barely tuned in with his teammates off the field and much less inside. He has a goal and almost everything else is missing. A Vinicius happens the other way around but its associative sense elevates the competitiveness of the whole. It suffered the Madrid when Solari exchanged them in the second half.
The 0-1 conditioned the game and will deeply mark the tie. "We hope that goal will serve us," said Keylor, "with a 0-0 in the return we will pass." If Madrid reaches the final it will be thanks to that goal in which Vinicius Júnior left his first mark in a classic.