Bayern Munich and Chile gladiator Arturo Vidal is taking the fight to the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup final. - © © gettyimages
Bayern Munich and Chile gladiator Arturo Vidal is taking the fight to the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup final. - © © gettyimages

Bayern Munich warrior Arturo Vidal Chile's Confederations Cup key


Watching Arturo Vidal in action on the football pitch, you could be forgiven for thinking you had just been transported back in time to a great Roman amphitheatre.

The battle cry, the dignity and the undying will to win at all costs - the Bayern Munich and Chile international midfielder is a modern-day gladiator and world-class footballer rolled into one.

Watch: Arturo Vidal on life in the Bundesliga

"We called him the earth eater," recalled Arturo Olea, Vidal's coach at boyhood club Rodelino. "He fell and he played, we beat him up and he stopped - but being hurt or injured, he didn't care."

Over two decades on, age has only made him more resilient. After honing his no-nonsense craft at Colo-Colo and Bayer Leverkusen, Vidal has cemented his legacy as one of the modern era's most complete box-to-box midfielders during decorated stints with Juventus and now Bayern.

"Many try to imitate my style, but I want to say one thing: I'm the best defensive midfielder in the world," four-time Serie A and two-time Bundesliga champion Vidal boldly avowed back in 2014. "No one defends as well as me and scores so many goals."

The statistics give weight to Vidal's claim. The Santiago native has come out on top of 64 per cent of his attempted challenges to date, and scored 107 goals in 497 appearances for club and country. Defying preconceptions for good measure, he has only been sent off seven times in his career.

Watch: Vidal scores his second of four Bundesliga goals in 2016/17

All work and all play, Vidal's continued success at club level is mirrored by recent achievements on the international stage. He was the driving force behind Chile's 2015 and 2016 Copa America triumphs, and has once again fulled La Roja's run to the final of the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

"Thanks for the love," Vidal said to FIFA TV, as he picked up his man-of-the-match award following Chile's tournament-opening win over Cameroon. "Obviously it's important to get off to a good start, and I'm delighted to score, but the three points are what matter most. We've put in the preparation and want to go as far as we can. Hopefully we can win the competition."

Germany provide one last test of Chile's Confederations Cup credentials, in St. Petersburg on 2 July. After shutting down the midfield in the 1-1 stalemate between Group B's eventual top two a little over a week ago, Vidal will not lose any sleep as he prepares to deliver the knockout blow to a side predominated by tried and tested Bundesliga talent, including Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich.

"Jo didn't play a lot [last season], but he was always well prepared when he did," Vidal explained. "It's always a tough decision for the coach. Young players need minutes under their belts to develop. But he's a quality player."

Eight years Kimmich's senior, Vidal is well placed to judge. Once the budding star himself, the gladiatorial 30-year-old has picked off the competition on his way to the pinnacle of the game. Father Time will force a changing of the guard eventually, but do not expect the Bundesliga's beast incarnate to surrender without a fight. A warrior to the core, King Arturo will defend his throne until the bitter end.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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