The game at the Camp Nou also brings together two of world football’s most exciting emerging attacking superstars – with Barcelona’s Ansu Fati in line to make his first ElClasico start a week before his 18th birthday, and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior returning to a fixture in which he played a decisive role last time around.
Vinicius’ contribution goal against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu last March was the biggest moment of the 20-year-old Brazilian’s career to date. The winger sped onto Toni Kroos’ precise through ball and then saw his cross-shot diverted unwittingly to the net by blaugrana defender Gerard Pique’s outstretched toe.
Ansu was watching from the bench at the Bernabeu at that point, and although he entered the game late on he was unable to stop his side losing 2-0 in probably the most pivotal result of Real Madrid’s victory in the 2019/20 title race.
It is no surprise that many supporters around the globe will be following the personal duel of the two youngsters closely, especially given how important they have become to their respective teams in a relatively short space of time.
Ansu’s big break out of Barça’s La Masia academy came in August 2019, when then-first team coach Ernesto Valverde made the Guinea-Bissau born teenager the Catalan club’s youngest ever LaLiga debutant after a run of injuries to attackers including talisman Lionel Messi.
Clearly in a hurry to make an impact, Ansu scored his first LaLiga goal just six minutes into his second game, against Osasuna, becoming the youngest ever goal scorer in Barça history at 16 years and 304 days old. Last December he became the Champions League’s youngest ever goal scorer, and just this September he scored on his first senior international start for Spain. He followed that with two stunning strikes against Villarreal in Barça’s first LaLiga game of 2020/21, and another strike at RC Celta means he has 10 goals (and two assists) in his first 27 LaLiga games.
Just a couple of years older, Vinicius’ rise has still been startling. On arrival from Brazil in summer 2018, he was expected to settle gradually with Real Madrid’s Castilla youth side in the third tier. But there was no holding him back from the first team, and his pace and bravery made him an instant favourite with Blancos fans suffering a difficult 2018/19 campaign.
During last year’s title run-in he won a vital penalty converted by Sergio Ramos at Real Sociedad, and opened the scoring in another huge victory against Osasuna. He has also had an excellent start to 2020/21 – coming off the bench to excellently hit the only goal of the game as Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Valladolid 1-0, and then calmly converting the opener in their 2-0 victory at Levante just before the international break.
Few youngsters can make an immediate impact at either Barça or Real Madrid, given the wealth of attacking talent available to both coaches. However, despite their tender years both Ansu and Vinicius have already shown they can make a difference at the very top level. Saturday’s ElClasico gives both a chance to take another step on their way to superstardom.
The ElClasico will be played at the Camp Nou and will kick off at 5 PM EAT.
Credit: Source link