Vinícius Júnior back from injury for Madrid derby

Vinícius Júnior back from injury for Madrid derby
  • PublishedSeptember 23, 2023


Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said forward Vinícius Júnior is fit and available for the team’s derby clash with Atletico Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday, adding that there is “zero risk” if the forward is involved.

The Brazil international has been out of action since Aug. 28, when he picked up a hamstring injury in Madrid’s 1-0 win at Celta Vigo.

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Vinícius was expected to face six weeks on the sidelines, which would have seen him miss eight matches including the derby, but Ancelotti confirmed on Saturday that the player had recovered sooner than anticipated.

“The injury is forgotten,” Ancelotti said in his pre-match news conference on Saturday. “He’ll be in the squad. Tomorrow we’ll see what role he plays in the game.”

The Italian coach said that right-back Dani Carvajal would be absent as he “isn’t 100%” while Ferland Mendy and Dani Ceballos are both available for selection.

“The risk is zero,” Ancelotti said, when asked if he was taking a chance by bringing Vinícius back early. “If we think there’s a 1% risk tomorrow we won’t take it. The important thing is Vinicius has recovered. He lacks a bit of conditioning but that’s normal.”

Madrid go into the match top of the LaLiga table with five wins out of five so far thanks to top scorer Jude Bellingham, who already has six goals in six appearances for the club in all competitions.

The England midfielder missed training on Friday with a stomach problem, but Ancelotti dismissed any concerns about his availability.

“It was a small thing,” Ancelotti said. “He felt ill but he’s recovered.”

By contrast, Atletico go into the derby hit by a string of injuries in midfield — with doubts over captain Koke fitness and Rodrigo de Paul and Thomas Lemar both missing — and after two disappointing results, a 3-0 league defeat at Valencia and a 1-1 Champions League draw with Lazio where they conceded a 95th minute equaliser to goalkeeper Ivan Provedel.

“Every team has injuries,” coach Diego Simeone said. “I heard [Pep] Guardiola saying it yesterday, even the best team in the world suffers from it. With so many games the coaches have to deal with these situations.

“Madrid and Barcelona always have great players but even so we’ve been able to compete. We have to think about us and keep looking for the ways we’ve competed over the last 11 years.”


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