Santiago Solari often says that against teams that, like Barça, make a massive pressure on the exit of the ball, the most difficult thing is to choose well and execute the first pass once the ball is recovered. As a general rule, the difficulty of the passes decreases as the exit action of the quagmire progresses.
This Wednesday, at the start of the knockout round of Champions in Amsterdam, the same scenario of the ambush was depicted in the canyon. Wave after wave, encouraged by the local fans, the Ajax players put an exhaustive pressure on the area of Courtois that prevented the Madrid find space and time to give several passes in a row. Until in the 13th minute Vinicius He stole a ball from Mazraoui, the right-handed side, when there were 21 players in the visiting field. That was a pilgrimage. But far from being carried away by his accelerated nature, the Brazilian raised his head in search of help, found Ramos in a small clearing, and left the ball in his face. The captain gave it to Reguilón, Reguilón returned to play with Vinicius, and then the Brazilian saw out of the corner of his eye his teacher: in the midfield offered Benzema.
The moment defined the kind of service that distinguishes and validates the continued presence of Vinicius in the titular team for two months. He also explained why his complicity with Benzema elevates them both. Because Benzema then executed the second most complicated delivery of the maneuver: passed to Kroos and the steering wheel broke the pressure of De Jong before redirecting the attack to the left again. Where he saw the companion who was unmarked in the meadow, away from the tumult, faster and better placed than anyone. It was not Bale, who had trouble getting involved in all phases, but Vinicius, who was already running behind the stripped Mazaroui in search of surprise. When he closed De Ligt outside, the end stepped on the area with a cut and released the shot warped to the far post. His patented auction. It was the first visitor shot. He was stopped by Onana.
When Madrid was looking for a lifeline, he clung to 18-year-old Vinicius and his best partner, Karim Benzema, of 30. Complicity is natural but not improvised. If Casemiro is in charge of protecting Vinicius outside the field, supervising his adaptation to everyday life in Madrid, the figure of Benzema approaches that of the tactical advisor. The Frenchman has discovered in the newcomer a type receptive to his indications. As both are more cerebral than they appear, they conceive situations that they later execute during the games. So Vinicius, player inclined to one-dimensional football overflow by power and dribbling, has discovered under the veteran's umbrella the most effective dimension of imbalance: the one that derives from the association. "Since I arrived, Benzema does everything to help me improve," said the end in Movistar +.
The 0-1 play of the Camp Nou in the Copa semi-final was the product of several previous talks and some practice on the ground. Benzema explained to Vinicius that he would go down to the midfield to support him in the origin of the action, thrown to the left, to leave the ball with advantage to face Semedo or Piqué. If he managed to overcome them, Benzema told him that he would uncheck diagonally to the far post, and that he should look for him if the first option of the shot on goal was impossible. A week ago, the maneuver led to Lucas Vázquez's goal to Barça. This Wednesday, also served to generate the 0-1 against Ajax, Benzema's own work after a snake of his disciple.
Was not planned. In none of the plans drawn up by the board last summer was it contemplated that Benzema and Vinicius would end up being the most decisive couple in this Madrid. The statistics point it out clearly. Benzema is the top scorer, with 19 goals, and the one with the best average goals per minute, one every 158. Vinicius is the top assistant with eight passes that ended in a goal. There is nothing similar in the template.
The combined average of goals and passes of goal is one of the most significant indices of the adaptation of a soccer player to his surroundings. Between goals (seven) and assists (eight), the debutant Vinicius participates in a decisive action every 110 minutes. The data reveals an extraordinary case of precocity. He does not even beat Benzema, with decisive action every 115 minutes. Bale, who has played 1,000 minutes less than Benzema due to injuries, has intervened once every 118 minutes in decisive plays. Asensio follows him with a decisive play every 187. Isco is far below, with a goal or a goal pass every 200 minutes of competition.
"I love playing with Vinicius," Benzema said in the Cruyff Arena, evoking his crony, half limping and with his right hand immobilized by a splint that protects a broken finger. "They hit me on the hip, but it's nothing, now I have to rest and that's it," he warned.
The fashionable couple in Madrid oscillates in the unstable equilibrium of the high competition. They have met by chance. Now Solari vows to separate them as little as possible.