Real Madrid will make the trip to face Eibar in LaLiga this Saturday without Gareth Bale but with a young Brazilian who seems more than ready to take his place.
Rodrygo Goes is the man of the moment following his hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League in midweek, building on an already-impressive start to life in the Spanish capital.
The 18-year-old has started Madrid’s last four matches in all competitions, helping Los Blancos to three convincing wins and a draw against Real Betis. He’s netted four goals in those four matches, culminating in Wednesday’s man-of-the-man display against the Turkish side.
Rodrygo has not only put himself in contention for minutes on the pitch under Zinedine Zidane, he’s made himself extremely difficult to drop. His fellow countryman Vinicius Jr. has already suffered after dropping out of the match day squad and the injured Bale will find it difficult to break back into Zidane’s starting eleven when fit and ready. Lucas Vázquez is another member of the squad – a favourite of Zidane – who has also suffered.
The situation is a far cry from just a few months ago, when the former Santos man found himself featuring for Castilla, Madrid’s second team playing in the third tier of Spanish football. Infamously, he missed a penalty for Raùl’s side but that has not impacted on his desire to break into the first team. There’s no now looking back.
There should be caution when building up the exciting young attacker and there’s no finer example than in-house. Vinicius was tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner not so long ago after being one of the standout players in a disappointing campaign last season for Los Blancos, but the Brazilian has been excluded from Zidane’s match day squad in recent weeks.
Maybe that’s some smart thinking by Zidane after the youngster came under huge pressure to perform and find the back of the net, something evident through his emotional reaction to scoring his only goal of the season so far in the 2-0 home win over Osasuna in September.
Rodrygo, however, seems a more rounded player. Short of the out-and-out pace of Vinicius, Rodrygo has an end product at just 18 years of age and already looks to have an old head on young shoulders. Emotion, for the most part, seems to have been set aside as he copes comfortably with the pressure of the Bernabéu and the high demands of madridistas.
The saying goes that if they’re good enough they’re old enough, and that certainly seems to be the case with Rodrygo. Expect the Brazilian to continue in his starting role when Madrid visit the Basque Country to face Eibar this weekend.