Vinicius’s chances of winning the Ballon d’Or are complicated after Brazil’s elimination from the Copa América | TUDN Brazil National Team

Vinicius Junior has tarnished his candidacy for the Golden Ball After an irregular performance in the Copa America and the elimination against Uruguay in which he did not playin which he only stood out in one of the three matches in which he participated, missing the fourth match played by the Canarinha at the tournament.

The Real Madrid winger arrived enthroned as the leader of a Brazilian team without Neymar, who did not recover in time from the rupture of the cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The titles were his: Spanish Super Cup, La Liga and a new Champions League. Expectations in Brazil were very high – perhaps too high for a very young and developing team – and the result has fallen short of expectations.

A blot on an outstanding season with his club that could affect his aspirations to succeed Lionel Messi and become the next Ballon d’Or winner. In football jargon, it would be said that ‘it no longer depends on him’ to achieve it.

In the running for the prestigious award are Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland, Toni Kroos, who retired this year, and Jude Bellingham.

The English midfielder is now the main threat. He has also been fundamental for Real Madrid and has just reached the semi-finals of the European Championship.

In the round of 16 he scored a last-minute overhead kick, a candidate for the best goal of the season, which forced extra time against Slovakia (2-1). In the semis, he will face the Netherlands, with France or Spain as rivals in a hypothetical final.

The Euro Cup in Bellingham’s hands could mean goodbye, for this year, to Vinícius’ golden dream.

The 2024 Copa América was Vini’s third major tournament with the senior team.

In the 2021 edition he was a substitute; at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar he was far from the level he showed in Madrid and the same has happened to him now at the continental event in the United States.

The former Flamengo player crashed into the Costa Rica wall (0-0), being substituted by technical decision in the second half.

He carried the team on his back in the second group match against Paraguay (1-4). In that match, perhaps his best since his debut with the senior team, he was in his element.

Not in vain, until then he had scored three goals for Brazil and that day he scored two in fifteen minutes.

But against Colombia he once again showed a more subdued version (1-1) and also received an avoidable yellow card that forced him to sit in the stands in the quarter-finals against Uruguay, who ended up eliminating them on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation time.

The São Gonçalo player, who is about to turn 24, has always been seen closely marked by rivals with up to three men and no space to break through.

His attitude on the field has also been the subject of criticism from some rivals.

He lashed out at Conmebol for making them play on narrower American football fields, and at the referees, whom he accused of “always” going against his team.

Brazilian fans are still waiting for the best Vinícius. The South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, where Brazil is also going through a difficult situation, will be the next test for the Canarinha’s number 7.

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