Zinedine Zidane: Vinicius Must Continue Working in Face of Eden Hazard Challenge

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 31, 2019

Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (L) shakes hands with Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane as he leaves the pitch during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and CA Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on September 25, 2019. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has said Vinicius Junior "must continue working" now he's competing with Eden Hazard for a place in the lineup.

Vinicius made a surprise run into Real's first team during a challenging 2018-19 campaign, but his prospects have changed since Los Blancos signed Hazard from Chelsea for an initial €100 million this past summer.

The 19-year-old was omitted from the squad that defeated Leganes 5-0 in La Liga on Wednesday, but Zidane told reporters he was confident Vinicius has a place in his plans provided he works for it:

“Nothing has happened. This time he has to sit it out, but it means nothing. He matters the same as the others.

“What you have to think is that maybe last year Hazard wasn't here. Now Hazard is in his place. He must continue working, I will continue to count on him, he knows that we are going to count on him. Of course, it is a bit difficult for him to be left out, but that is the case for everyone. Those who are left out will be pissed off."

Five different goalscorers made the difference at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, including a maiden strike for substitute Luka Jovic in injury time.

Hazard won the first of two penalties Real scored—Sergio Ramos took the honours from 12 yards—though Bleacher Report's Dean Jones didn't feel his contribution justified man-of-the-match selection:

Dean Jones @DeanJonesBR

Madrid have breezed past Leganes 5-0 tonight and Eden Hazard got man of the match... But I'm really not sure why 🤷🏻‍♂️ Benzema was the real MOM. Again.

Vinicius has scored one goal and recorded one assist in nine appearances so far this season. He's played mostly on Real's left wing over the past year, the same position in which Hazard dazzled at Stamford Bridge and will be expected to do so in Madrid.

Gareth Bale has already missed games this season due to injury, while Spain winger Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee.

Nevertheless, Vinicius has encountered more wing competition from Brazilian compatriot Rodrygo Goes, who continues to settle in on the opposite flank:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

The name on everybody's lips right now... 💫 @RodrygoGoes has scored a goal every 67 minutes for @realmadriden so far this season! 💜🇧🇷 #LaLigaSantander https://t.co/21erEn1FKV

Rodrygo, 18, scored twice in his first 50 minutes of Spanish league football. He came on to bag his maiden Liga strike in a 2-0 win over Osasuna in September before netting seven minutes into his full debut against Leganes.

Broadcaster Deji Faremi commented on the newer face at Real upstaging his (slightly) older countryman:

Deji Faremi @deejayfaremi

Rodrygo already adding goals to his game and showing ability to pop in different positions...it's not like that's what I've been clamouring for Vinicius to do more.

Vinicius has only featured in one of Real's last four league games and was omitted from the squad for two of those, but his expectations will also have moved beyond Castilla matters.

The former Palmeiras prodigy is discovering the difficulty that comes with elite-level competition, but Vinicius will hope to return to the squad when Zidane's side host Real Betis on Saturday.