Vinicius Jr. ignores racist chants, keeps dancing in Madrid derby vs. Atletico; Real Madrid stay perfect in LaLiga

News Desk || shiningbd

Published: 9/19/2022 10:59:57 AM

A tense, chippy affair ended in a 2-1 win for Real Madrid, who stay perfect in LaLiga this season amid jeering for Vinicius Junior from Atletico's fans.

Goals from Rodrygo and Federico Valverde put Real Madrid ahead early, and a goal from Atletico's Mario Hermoso followed by a red card eight minutes later didn't do much to help the hosts' cause.

1. Rodrygo, Valverde and Vinicius are Madrid's future

It's happened fast, but this season already feels like the beginning of a new era at Real Madrid, with Rodrygo (21 years old), Vinicius Junior (22) and Fede Valverde (24) as this team's new stars.

It's a process that began during last year's Champions League run and is now impossible to ignore. One or more of Rodrygo, Vinicius and Valverde have scored in each of Madrid's last seven games -- Rodrygo's opener made it three league games scoring in a row for him -- and together they sum up this fast, direct, clinical Madrid team.

Veterans like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are still very much present -- both were excellent against Atletico -- and of course Karim Benzema will come back into the team when he returns from injury. But this was a night that was all about Madrid's vibrant, irrepressible front three.

After a positive start from Atletico, it was Rodrygo who opened the scoring, firing Aurelien Tchouameni's floated pass beyond Jan Oblak, and when Vinicius' low shot hit the post and rebounded across goal, Valverde was there to make it 2-0 and effectively end the contest, despite Atletico's late fightback. Amid all the noise of a frantic Madrid derby, those two moments of quality made the difference.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo danced together after Real Madrid's opening goal against Atletico. Both have become important leaders for the club. David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

2. Appalling racist chants demand action from Atletico

The footage of a group of Atletico Madrid fans singing a full-throated racist chant directed at Vinicius outside the Metropolitano stadium before this game was sickening, dispiriting and, unfortunately, nothing new.

Atletico's hardcore group of ultras, the Frente Atletico, have been guilty of such incidents on numerous occasions before -- both inside and outside the ground -- and the club have failed to take decisive action, despite receiving punishments from UEFA. Until Atletico do whatever is necessary to deal with this, including lifetime stadium bans if those responsible can be identified, it will continue to happen.

Vinicius' response to racist criticism of his goal celebrations this week was an eloquent, word-perfect statement on the issue and here he was able to respond on the pitch. When Rodrygo scored, Vinicius was first across to join him in what seemed like a very deliberate dance on the touchline, and he was then the catalyst for Real Madrid's second goal with a trademark run down the left.

After the match, Vinicius Junior posted a photo of his celebration with Rodrygo along with the caption, "Dance wherever you want." Keep dancing, Vini.

3. Griezmann's first start ends in defeat

It had become a running joke so far this season: By the 62nd, or the 63rd, or the 64th minute, here comes Antoine Griezmann -- the super-sub who coach Diego Simeone loves, but couldn't start -- as Atletico Madrid sought to avoid activating the appearance-based clause that would force them to pay Barcelona €40 million to make his loan deal permanent next summer.

This wasn't just any game though. This was the Madrid derby, and so Griezmann did start. And he started quite well. Playing alongside Joao Felix in attack, it was Griezmann who was arguably Atletico's liveliest player in the first half, often dropping deep to get involved in play.

When the time came for Simeone to make changes in the second half, with Atletico chasing the game, it was Griezmann who stayed on. Just don't be surprised to see him back on the bench next time.

-ESPN

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