Rodrygo, from Ancelotti’s scolding to the kiss | Sports

In the last Champions League final, close to minute 90, Rodrygo Goes approached Carlo Ancelotti and reminded him that he had promised to play something against Liverpool. The Brazilian had been providential for Real Madrid to be there, although he had not finished getting a place in the starting eleven. Like this course. Until these last few weeks, in which he has settled in the enlisted squad on the big nights: the second leg of the Cup semifinal against Barça at the Camp Nou, the first leg against Chelsea and the second leg at Stamford Bridge, where he scored two times playing from the beginning. He’s no longer just that awesome goofball.

For example, a few weeks before the final in Paris, in the return match against Manchester City at the Bernabéu. It was even later than when he reminded Ancelotti of the promise of the final, and Madrid was out. Very out. He lacked two goals to force extra time. The Brazilian scored those two, and almost the third.

The Brazilian’s current season has been full of recognition and frustration. During the time that Karim Benzema spent on and off the disabled list, Rodrygo was the first choice to cover for the captain’s absence. He played nine, and kept very committed appointments. He also performed on the right, and even better on the left when Vinicius was suspended, or tired. He achieved very important goals, and almost self-managed, such as the one that allowed them to win against Cacereño in the Cup. But he continued to be seen as a wild card, without his own place, and this despite the fact that he has placed himself as the fifth outfield player with the most minutes, while last year it was 13th.

He brooded over his discontent for not taking the last leap. Also because he thought that Ancelotti was not using him in what he believed was his best position, midfielder behind the nine. There he successfully replaced Neymar in the Brazilian team at the World Cup in Qatar.

Rodrygo after scoring the second goal against Chelsea.
Rodrygo after scoring the second goal against Chelsea.DYLAN MARTINEZ (REUTERS)

To this internal turmoil was added an incident with Ancelotti in January, after not starting in the final of the Arabian Super Cup against Barcelona. Days later, the Italian withdrew him from the field in the 56th minute of the Cup round of 16 against Villarreal. He sat on the bench without greeting the coach, who scolded him in public: “You greet me.” The set was strange in an always correct footballer. His environment spread that the boy, upset, had not noticed. In any case, the obfuscation was there. In those moments, he found shelter under the arm of Luka Modric, the veteran with whom he has felt the most complicity. “Modric always talks to me. When he was in a part of the season that was good but he didn’t start, he told me to be calm, that things were going to work out. I think he told me that before the game against Atlético in the Copa del Rey, and then I scored a goal there, ”he recounted in London.

Mentoring not only works off the field, but also in the game. The Champions League last year had another defining moment for the Brazilian at a time when the club had begun to study loaning him out. It was also against Chelsea. Also in the second leg of the quarterfinals. And with Madrid out. The English had come back from 1-3 in the first leg. They had gone 0-3. Then the Croatian got the pass from him with the most legendary exterior. “Nobody would remember it if Rodrygo didn’t score,” he recently recalled in an interview. The Brazilian ran towards the area, finished off a volley and took the game to extra time. If he was at that point on the field, it was because of Modric: “He always tells me to go into space,” he said.

On Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge, with 0-0 and Chelsea still with weapons to come back from 2-0 in the first leg, Rodrygo had a moment of anger with the aroma of the beginning of the course when he saw that in the band for which he ran Ancelotti called Tchouameni to put him on the field: “I thought he was going to come out. Then I dialed and it changed. I thought he was going to come out, and he was kind of upset.” But he still had time to score the second before the coach withdrew it, this time to be given a standing ovation from the corner where the Madrid fans were staying. And to receive him with a kiss. “He always does that when he scores,” he says, something much more common in the Champions League, where he has 15 goals in 37, more than the 12 he has scored in 100 league games.

Ancelotti wanted to take recognition of his game a little beyond the goals: “His game was less good than the others, but it was extraordinarily effective. When he doesn’t score, he makes the difference”.

At Stamford Bridge, after the two goals, Rodrygo seemed to remove the weight of the anguish of the whole year: “I feel like a starter, I feel important, and especially in the Champions League, because I’m always there,” he said. “I have something special with the Champions League, and I want to continue like this.”

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