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Arturo Vidal may be the antithesis to Barcelona but he is exactly what they need

The Chilean lunatic was at his grizzly best last night

A flash of a tattoos whizzes past your face.

You feel the spikes of a mohican graze your skin.

The next thing you know Arturo Vidal is flying full force through your shins to sweep the ball away from you.

Only one winner here

Getty - Contributor
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Only one winner here

That is the epitome of Vidal’s game, thumping tackles which play very loose with the rules but are supremely effective.

It is just one of the reasons the Chilean, known as the ‘Warrior’, has been marshalling the midfields of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona over the last decade.

Against Liverpool in an intense Champions League semi-final last night, with Barcelona 3-0 as the clock struck 90 minutes, there was one moment that encapsulated Vidal’s game and ensured the Reds didn’t get that crucial away goal.

Thump

Getty - Contributor
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Thump

Sadio Mane was passed the ball on the right of the area, the Liverpool striker would have been in the perfect position to pick out a player in the middle, but within a second of his first touch he felt the full force of Vidal coming through.

The safe option would have been to stay on his feet and try to show Mane away from the Barca goal, but Vidal doesn’t do safe.

He flew in and exectued the perfect slide tackle to send the ball out for a corner, leaving Mane in a crumpled heap on the Camp Nou turf.

The Liverpool players appealed to the for a penalty but Vidal’s challenge was elite.

This moment instantly endeared Vidal to all the Barcelona fans that had felt mostly indifferent to the 31-year-old this season.

Ernesto Valverde’s decision to start Vidal over Artur raised a few eyebrows before kick-off but it was wholly vindicated on the night.

Vidal was a bristling, snarling presence in midfield – he made the most tackles (5) and conceded the most fouls (4), what more do you want from your midfield hound?

Vidal was doing a bit of everything last night

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Vidal was doing a bit of everything last night

Having been an iron-clad starter for both Juventus and Bayern, Vidal joined Barcelona knowing that he may have to play second fiddle to Artur in midfield.

Although he’s made 30 appearances in the league this term, 10 have been from the bench and in Europe Vidal’s been used even more sparingly.

Of Barca’s 10 Champions League games this season, he’s had to settle for a position on the bench in eight of those games.

Pressure rolls of Vidal’s back like it’s nothing and he settled into the Champions League semi like he’d been playing at this level all year.

Vidal is almost the complete opposite of Messi on the pitch

Reuters
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Vidal is almost the complete opposite of Messi on the pitch

One of the most impressive elements of Vidal crowbaring his way into this title-winning side is that he represents the antithesis of what Barcelona stand for.

The club most associated with introducing tika-taka to the world now has a first-class reducer in the middle of the park.

Gone are the pass-masters of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, replaced on the highest stage with the firebrand Vidal, his totemic mohawk and a probable set of studs raking down your ankle if you enter his territory.


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