‘Did a good job on him’: BBC pundit says Madrid star was much worse in the second leg due to Chelsea player

Rob Green recognised the job Reece James did on Vinicius Junior during the Champions League bout between Chelsea and Real Madrid yesterday.

Speaking on the BBC Radio Five Live, the former goalkeeper credited James for keeping his direct opponent quiet for most of the match at the Bernabeu last night.

James versus Junior

Not many have been able to hold Vinicius at arm’s length this season.

The young forward has scored contributed 34 goals across all competitions since the start of the term, including seven assists in Europe.

He demonstrated his threat during the first leg with Chelsea on English soil, setting up Karim Benzema for Madrid’s opener and generally causing Andreas Christensen havoc.

James Officially Returns To HITC!

However, he came up against an entirely different challenge when pitted face-to-face with James.

Photo by Colas Buera / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport

Despite receiving a yellow card early on, the England international managed to quell the threat often posed by Vinicius.

His tricks, flicks and fast feet were not enough to get round the Cobham academy graduate.

Their personal duel pretty much epitomised the final result; Chelsea played the better football, but Madrid ended victorious.  

“It was a whole-hearted performance from everyone, that’s a given, that needed to happen from the start,” Green remarked when asked to pick the best performers from Thomas Tuchel’s troop.  

“But, you’re looking at Reece James. Managed Vinicius so well out on the right-hand side, on the Real Madrid left.

“You’re looking at his performance, especially after getting booked early, he showed real composure.

“We were saying how poor Vinicius was in comparison to last week. Well, that’s probably because Reece James wasn’t playing in the first leg. He really did a good job on him.”

Madrid’s joy is Chelsea’s misery

Sadly for James, his ability to snuff out Vinicius eventually came to nothing.

Chelsea had hauled themselves to the edge of completing an extraordinary European comeback, thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner.

Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Madrid, masters of the competition, did not lie down and struck back with a late goal ten minutes from the end.

With the aggregate scores level, Carlo Ancelotti’s men hit the final blow in extra time, via the head of Karim Benzema.

A real kick in the teeth, but one the Blues will recover from.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.