Never seen player treated as badly as Vinícius – Ancelotti

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said Vinícius Júnior is treated worse on the pitch than any player he has coached in his career as he passionately defended the forward on Saturday.

Vinícius scored Madrid’s only goal in their 1-1 Champions League round-of-16 draw with RB Leipzig at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, but was also fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for shoving Leipzig captain Willi Orbán.

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Last weekend, the Brazil forward was repeatedly whistled by the crowd at the Mestalla during Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Valencia — a game in which he also scored twice — having been racially abused by a group of fans in the same fixture last season.

“I’ve looked back a bit, at history, at statistics, and I’ve never seen a player who’s been persecuted like Vinícius,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Saturday, ahead of Madrid’s LaLiga game with Celta Vigo.

“He’s kicked, he’s whistled, he’s insulted. And what does he do? He scores goals and provides assists. And then I’m supposed to talk to him about his attitude? No!

“Everyone should change their attitude regarding Vinícius. In my personal history, a player with great talent has never suffered the things that Vinicius has. In Vallecas [against Rayo Vallecano] he got karate chopped in the head, and there wasn’t even a yellow card. Now everyone is asking for a red card for the push against Leipzig.”

Vinícius has scored nine goals in 18 LaLiga appearances this season, and three in five Champions League games.

In the Madrid squad, he has only been outscored by Jude Bellingham, who misses the Celta match after his two-game ban for being sent off in the Valencia draw was upheld.

Bellingham was dismissed after the final whistle for passionately disputing the referee’s decision to end the game seconds before he headed the ball into the net, for what would have been the winning goal.

“We appealed because we thought the punishment was excessive,” Ancelotti said. “There was no insult, the referee’s report said that. [The RFEF disciplinary committee] evaluated the aggressive way in which he approached the referee.

“I hope they haven’t ‘got his number’. Bellingham complains sometimes like everybody does, but a lot of players do it in a more exaggerated way than Bellingham. We still think the punishment is incorrect.”

Madrid’s performance in the second leg against Leipzig was criticised after they were dominated by the Bundesliga side.

“Before the game I said that maybe a small [first-leg] advantage affects your attention and intensity,” Ancelotti said. “The team was a bit worried, we played a low block, we didn’t press… We played thinking about having the advantage.

“The truth is I don’t know how to prepare a team for this [situation] because it’s always happened, it happened against Schalke [in the Champions League in 2015], it happened against Chelsea [in 2022]… You can’t say ‘don’t think about our lead’ because then all you think about is your lead.”