England Must Use Chile's Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal as Future Midfield Model

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England Must Use Chile's Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal as Future Midfield Model
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's easy—not to mention fashionable—to bemoan the traditional English preference for all-action, blood-and-thunder midfielders in the mould of Bryan Robson and Steven Gerrard.

These players, with their high-tempo legacy of frenetic match-winning displays have even come to be blamed for such problems as the national team's troubles retaining the ball, too.

Yet, just as we're told that 4-4-2 is an unworkable and obsolete system at the top level, it appears the supposedly dead-and-buried role of the box-to-box midfielder is alive and well, remixed for the modern game and as fast and as furious as ever.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Borussia Dortmund can be described as playing a 4-4-2, proving it's not the formation but how you use it that counts.

When Chile line up at Wembley on Friday, November 15, Roy Hodgson would do well to study their system for clues as to how to make England's midfield relevant again.

After all, it's unlikely that Michael Carrick and Co. will suddenly transform themselves into Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergi Busquets anytime soon.

Instead, Chile's midfield two illustrate how old-school principles can be unleashed upon the modern game.

With his determination to dominate games, flying in with tackles across the pitch and charging into the final third to start and support attacks when appropriate, Arturo Vidal is arguably the most complete midfielder in the world at present.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Vidal is known as "The Warrior" in his native Chile.

Unfortunately, he has been ruled out of the latest round of international friendlies—as reported by Football.co.uk.

However, even without him on the field, it will become clear that his usual all-round performances are not just the product of his natural ability.

Along with the similarly purposeful and diligent Gary Medel, he takes a rather humble approach to his role as the midfield lynchpin.

Cardiff City's summer signing was known as "The Pitbull" during his time at Sevilla, but he, too, is a well-rounded player who can contribute to every phase of every play.

Humility can be a difficult quality to unearth from millionaire professional footballers, especially when on international duty where the opportunities for their national manager to coach and direct them is very limited.

David Cannon/Getty Images

Playing for the team rather than playing for themselves or for glory has been a recurrent issue with England's most talented individuals, who often seek to take on too much in a misguided belief they can carry their country to victory through guts and heroism alone.

Vidal and Medel are different. They measure their hyperactivity to fit the shifting needs of the team, rather than trying to overwhelm their opponents at all times.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Bielsa gave the Chileans an ethos, a style of play and a team focus that has served them well of late.

The Chileans have their former coach Marcelo Bielsa to thank for such awareness and discipline.

The Argentinian's high standards demanded that his players not only attempted to force attacks at every opportunity but that they also subjected themselves to a strict tactical framework.

Hodgson may be on the right path when it comes to forcing England into playing a more rigid system, although he must not be afraid to mix in a little ambition when it comes to how his teams push on instead of focusing solely on defence.

An example of Bielsa's boldness as he talks of attacking favourites Brazil at the 2012 World Cup.

It seems that his naturally conservative outlook has been further entrenched by the chaotic habits of Gerrard and Lampard as he attempts to make the two veterans his key men in midfield.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Hodgson must turn England's traditional strengths into a coherent vision for the future.

Yet the Liverpool and Chelsea greats are coming to the end of their careers and are unlikely to have the legs to play a more intense game through the middle.

Again like Bielsa, Hodgson should focus on making sure his next generation of youth prospects become the very best of English football and prevent the likes of Phil Jones and Ross Barkley from becoming overly gung-ho and tactically flawed like Scott Parker, Gerrard and Lampard.

Instead, their natural inclinations towards full-blooded displays must be guided into a more mindful version of what an unyielding, match-winning midfielder can be, in the images of Vidal and Medel.

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Too often English football is derided and criticised for not being Spanish, Italian or Brazilian in its style and player make-up, but there is plenty to like and profit from in the classic mould of the ferocious Three Lions.

Rather than shy away from his players' propensity for power, Hodgson must use the talent and resources available to him to bring England's qualities into the 21st century.

Hopefully in the near-future he can be inspired by the dynamic duo of Medel and a fit-again Vidal for a full-strength re-match.

For England's sakes, fans must pray any follow-up games come as a friendly rather than in the 2014 World Cup knockout stages.

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