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Vital Vidal - The Juventus midfield warrior

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By Luca Cetta

Saturday 31 March 2012

In a Derby D’Italia Juventus had to win in order to keep pace with Milan, they benefitted from fantastic first half Gianluigi Buffon saves which kept the score level, as well as second half goals from Martin Caceres and Alessandro Del Piero. Whilst those players performed admirably, another stood above the rest, midfielder Arturo Vidal. The Chilean was everywhere - supporting defensively, getting forward and even assisting his captain. The match highlighted the importance of Vidal in this Juventus line-up.

Signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer for €12.5 million after Juve fended off interest from Bayern Munich, the hard-running terrier has enjoyed a stellar debut season, fitting in seamlessly with Antonio Conte’s desire for high work ethic. Vidal was converted towards the former captain as early as August, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “Conte wants tactical perfection and demands the utmost concentration in every training session. He pays me a lot of attention and all I can do is give my best for the team.” Starting the first three matches on the bench, once Conte shifted to a three man midfield Vidal featured regularly alongside Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.

The M-V-P midfield compliments each other with a combination of technique, poise, determination and willingness. Former Juve midfielder Emerson summed the trio up as such: “Pirlo provides the brains and the experience, Vidal the personality and strength, while Marchisio offers talent and courage.” The trident have been a major catalyst for Juve’s Scudetto battle, their use of the ball helping Juventus to 61% average possession - Serie A’s highest, whilst their 84.8% pass completion rate shades Roma in first, with their average shots taken per match again top of the pile.

Defensively - as Giorgio Chiellini alluded to post-Inter – the Old Lady has conceded so few goals - 17 - because of the all-round work-rate. Marchisio and Vidal press and harass when out of possession, aiding Juve to the sixth-highest amount of tackles per match and also resulting in a stingy defence which allows the least goal attempts per match.

“We don’t concede a lot of goals because we all do a great amount of work. Players show how good they are individually when they play in an organised side. When we all press high, run and hold our positions, it all becomes easier for us,” Chiellini noted.

Vidal seemingly did it all against Inter. He had the most touches of any Bianconero, made six tackles, recovered 21 balls, was second only to Pirlo in successful passes – 67 to 70 – whilst taking two shots and claiming an assist.

It was a performance indicative of his campaign to date, his warrior-like performances drawing cheers of approval from the Juventus Stadium faithful. Only Fiorentina’s Valon Behrami makes more tackles per match in Serie A than Vidal, which shows his tenacity, but has also resulted in nine yellows and one red card. That has ensured trips to the stands to serve suspensions and is an area to work on. With the ball at his feet, Vidal is ranked third in Juve’s pass completion rates and he has chimed-in around the penalty area, contributing three goals and three assists – the fifth and equal-third highest at the club respectively. His versatility has aided Conte, with Vidal also able to fill-in diligently as an emergency centre-back against Genoa.

His price-tag looking more of a bargain as the season wears on, the Chilean international offers a near-complete central-midfield package. Vidal still has one main ambition to complete this season and that is to end with a Scudetto triumph, but the player has already shown just how vital he is to the Bianconeri machine.

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