Juventus took another step closer to retaining the Scudetto with a 1-0 victory over AC Milan Sunday night, the match-winning goal coming via Arturo Vidal's second half penalty.
Having scored both goals in Monday night's 2-0 win away against Lazio, the midfielder known as Il Guerriero—The Warrior—back in his homeland was once more decisive, as Juventus moved to within five points of back-to-back league titles.
Sunday's encounter was by no means a classic. Space was at a premium for both sides during the first period, whilst quality in the final third was in very short supply throughout.
However, Vidal's penalty in the 57th minute was perfection itself, ferociously struck into the top right-hand corner, giving Milan's deputy 'keeper Marco Amelia absolutely no chance and emphatically serving as another reminder of the Chilean's importance to the Old Lady.
Signed by Antonio Conte in the summer of 2011 from Bayer Leverkusen for a €10 million fee, which continues to look a bargain, some 21 months down the line, Vidal is perhaps the player who most embodies his manager's ideals.
Andrea Pirlo, with his flowing locks and cultured right foot, may well be the focal point of the side, but the hard-running of Vidal and his desire to win every challenge he encounters on the field has painted him as the hero of the Juventus Arena.
Pirlo has proven that he is unquestionably Serie A's most talented regista over an illustrious career and he has been vital to Juventus' success since his arrival in Turin. But after being discarded by Milan, his career renaissance has been achieved largely because of the dynamism and energy of Vidal as well as the third member of the Bianconeri's midfield triumvirate, Claudio Marchisio.
Pirlo is the brains of the Juventus midfield, but Vidal has regularly proven to be the lungs, the heart and the killer instinct.
This past week has shown (again) that Vidal is very much the prototype of the modern midfielder; it's no wonder that Bayern Munich were so upset when he supposedly went back on an agreement to leave Leverkusen for Bavaria before settling on Italy.
Physically outstanding, defensively Vidal's intelligent enough to know when is the right time to press opponents and when he should stand off and averages 5.1 tackles per match in Serie A this season (WhoScored).
However, whilst such talk and statistics portray him in a similar light to a former Pirlo cohort, Gennaro Gattuso, Vidal's technical ability far exceeds the World Cup winning Italian, to the extent that he is a genuine match winner.
Eleven goals in 36 matches in Serie A and the Champions League this season highlight his eye for goals, whilst he's also offered nine assists for teammates during that time. Not only is he a tremendous worker, but he knows what to do with the ball when he gets it.
These last six days have seen the 25-year-old Vidal act decisively in matches once more. A second European league title is now so close for the Santiago native that only a miracle could stop it.
But even if Napoli were to stage such an act, what's the betting that Il Guerriero simply didn't just offer another absolute contribution to take a second successive Scudetto for his own.
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