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Reece James names Real Madrid star as his toughest opponent

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The former academy star has developed into a reliable right-back at Chelsea.

Chelsea defender Reece James has named Vinicius Junior as his toughest opponent.

James was tasked with controlling Vinicius when Real Madrid faced Chelsea in the Champions League last season.

The England international defeated Vinicius in most of the first leg’s duels. But the Real Madrid star managed to provide an assist for Karim Benzema in the final minute.

Vinicius then played another impressive game when the two sides met for the second leg. Karim Benzema scored a sensational hat-trick to secure Real Madrid’s victory.

After the game, Vinicius wrote a message on Instagram praising James’ performance.

“Great game bro. Good luck,” he wrote.

James himself used to play as a forward for Chelsea’s academy ranks. The English star then moved to the midfield line before breaking into Frank Lampard’s Chelsea as a right-back.

Speaking about his development, James admitted Chelsea were on the verge of releasing him as a youngster.

“There was probably a stage where I was close to getting released (by Chelsea) around the age of 15 or 16,” James wrote on England national team’s website.

“I was probably one of the worst in the group and they were unsure of how I was going to develop.”