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Is Vinicius Junior at his best in Real Madrid’s diamond formation?

While serviceable, the Brazilian attacker might not be capable of maximizing his skills away from the left wing.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior might be the biggest casualty of the team’s new 4-4-2 diamond formation. Although the Brazilian attacker has interpreted his new role in a very serviceable manner, his dribbling skills and his ability to break down the opponent’s defensive line through the left wing is wasted when he’s deployed in the center of the offense.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti himself admitted that Vinicius would need “more time to adapt” to that new role than Rodrygo, who is more suited to his new spot spearheading the offense. That’s totally fair. Vinicius has only played two games in that spot and he will undoubtedly get more comfortable with more minutes. Again, he’s been fairly decent to begin with!

However, this is a matter of him not being able to maximize his potential through the center of the field. There, he’s receiving the ball as a connector, with his back towards the opposition’s goal. Vinicius’ dribbling skills and burst of speed are so rare that having him in the center seems like a bit of a waste, considering how valuable those two things are in modern football.

Furthermore, Vinicius is arguably the team’s best player right now. Wouldn’t it be better to exploit his quality where he’s at his best? That would mean switching back to the 4-3-3 formation, which would come at the expense of Jude Bellingham, who’s thrived behind the two attackers so far this pre-season. Granted, Bellingham could still shine as a central midfielder, but it seems that right now Ancelotti has to choose between maximizing Bellingham or Vinicius.

Ancelotti is still trying to implement the diamond formation and it’s still a work-in-progress. A 4-3-2-1 system could solve these issues as Bellingham would be deployed behind the attacker and Vinicius would play on the left wing, but Madrid would need a pure striker for that formation to work.

Is Mbappe a necessity at this point for both Vinicius and Bellingham to play at their best?

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