While the much-maligned Vinicius Jr put Liverpool to the sword last night, the barnstorming Brazilian wasn’t the only Real Madrid youngster who gave his critics a one-fingered salute during a dominant Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory.
Just one month ago, AS claimed Eder Militao was destined to fail at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A £43 million signing from Porto in summer 2019, Militao was supposed to be heir apparent to the legendary Pepe. Instead, his Real Madrid career has been beset by naive mistakes, silly red cards and a failure to overcome Sergio Ramos or Raphael Varane in Zinedine Zidane’s pecking order.
But, in the build-up to a truly titanic clash in the Spanish capital, a window of opportunity opened for Militao.
With Varane and Ramos ruled out, the 23-year-old seized a rare chance with both hands, producing perhaps his finest performance in a Real Madrid shirt as the 13-time European champions outclassed Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on their Valdebebas turf.
According to AS in March, Jose Mourinho wanted to raid his old employers and bring Militao to Tottenham Hotspur during the last transfer window.
On last night’s evidence, it’s difficult to dispel the feeling the eight-cap Brazil international would have been a major upgrade on the error-prone Eric Dier or Davinson Sanchez, never mind the ageing Toby Alderweireld.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, of course, and one impressive 90-minute display doesn’t make a world-class centre-half. The challenge now for Militao is to prove he can produce faultless defensive performances week in, week out.
If he can do that, Jose Mourinho’s loss will undoubtedly be Zinedine Zidane’s gain.
Here’s what some Tottenham fans had to say on Twitter about Militao’s performance: