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Vidal’s performance a work of Art for Barcelona against Real Sociedad

Midfield dominance was key to the win

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Before the game against Real Sociedad kicked off, most Cules were expecting that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Ousmane Dembele would be the probable match-winners in a game Barca normally win relatively comfortably.

The Basques were, for all intents and purposes, there for the taking, given their record at the Camp Nou where they’d not managed to stop Barca from scoring since 1983!

If ever there was what can be termed a ‘home banker,’ this was it. Only it didn’t quite pan out like that.

Clearly, La Real hadn’t read the script, and for all of Suarez’s physicality, Dembele’s pace and Messi’s guile, the Catalans should doff their caps and thank Arturo Vidal for the win.

The Chilean often gets a bad press, but with the Blaugranes only two more wins away from another title, Vidal can lay claim to having won leagues in three different countries - and having played the fullest part in all of them.

He covered every blade of grass on Saturday night, breaking up play as often as he was able and not allowing the opposition to get a foothold in his area of the pitch.

Importantly, his presence also afforded Ernesto Valverde the opportunity to rest Sergio Busquets for the most part, something that could be crucial for the next 2-3 weeks in particular.

Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba will get the plaudits for the goals, but for an all-round performance Vidal takes the honours.

He almost managed to get himself on the scoresheet too, but somehow skied the ball when well placed in the second half.

It’s interesting to note the sway in public opinion from the locals towards him too. They prefer their heroes to be technical exponents rather than battering rams, but just as Paulinho won them round eventually, Vidal has done the same.

The working class supporters who make up the majority of the attendance at the Camp Nou love the player who gives his all. Who leaves everything out on the pitch and who mirrors their own ethic.

Barca’s history is littered with some of the most skilful players to have ever played the game, but there’s always been room for a ‘minder’ for want of a better term.

Frankly, every top club needs one.

A hard-as-nails competitor whose style of play frees those more adept at the intricacies that Barca are known and loved for.

With Arthur still not up to a full 90 minutes in his first season in Europe, Vidal, at the very least, gives Valverde options.

If truth be told though, he gives the coach much, much more than that.

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