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'We suffered a lot' - Vinicius claims opponents went 'too far' with 'dirty tackles' ahead of World Cup

20:26 GMT+4 18/11/2022
Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2022-23
Brazil star Vinicius Junior feared he would miss the World Cup with injury because opponents targeted him with harder tackles ahead of the tournament.
  • Vinicius will be key for Brazil at World Cup
  • Winger says opponents made dirty tackles
  • Feared injury would rule him out of tournament

WHAT HAPPENED? The Real Madrid winger is the most-fouled player in La Liga this season but he believes the tackles became more harsh in an attempt to injure him and team-mate Rodrygo and damage Brazil's chances in Qatar this year.

WHAT THEY SAID: "What happens of the field stays on the field, but it went too far," Vinicius said to Reuters. "You can come strong but they were being dirty with their challenges. Rodrygo and I suffered a lot in those last games and feared the worst, to get injured and miss the World Cup. When you start to become an important player, rivals come after you harder. You have to learn to deal with that.

"I learned a lot from Neymar when he played for Barcelona, he suffered a lot too. Cristiano [Ronaldo], when he played for Real, suffered a lot too. But it was Karim [Benzema] who told me to stay calm and have peace of mind because if the rivals are chasing you it is because you are relevant, because they are afraid of you. So that's why when I take the ball and burst forward I do with a vengeance. Yes, I can get hurt. But I'm prepared for the challenge.".

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Vinicius is expected to play a key role for the Selecao in this year's tournament as he has been a regular for the national team over the last year. Plus, he has been in fine form for Real Madrid, scoring 10 goals in all competitions this season.

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WHAT NEXT FOR BRAZIL? Vinicius and his national team-mates start their World Cup campaign with a match against Serbia on November 24.