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Arturo Vidal shows Barcelona why he is ‘King’

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A standout performance from the Chilean against Liverpool

FC Barcelona v Levante UD - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

For a player that really doesn’t fit the mould of a ‘traditional’ blaugrana, Arturo Vidal is making it awfully difficult to argue against his inclusion in the Barcelona starting XI, particularly in the big games.

Social media was awash with criticism for Ernesto Valverde - again - when the Chilean was in ahead of Arthur Melo against Liverpool, but there was no sign of the vitriol at the end of the 90 minutes.

That told us all we needed to know.

Vidal was immense. Like a whirling dervish in all corners of the Camp Nou pitch, the aggressive midfielder was involved in everything. Five tackles made and four fouls conceded... the most in each case on the night. Vintage Vidal.

The Reds didn’t like it at all, and perhaps the best visual example of that was when Sadio Mane thought it was a good idea to push Vidal in the face.

Fortunately for Barca, the normally hot-headed Vidal didn’t react, and his physicality, drive and desire will be available to Valverde for the second leg, should the Basque decide to take advantage of his services again.

It would be hard to argue against picking him, purely because his disruptive instincts and the manner in which he leaves everything on the pitch is precisely what’s required at this point.

That’s not to knock Arthur of course, far from it, and if Valverde sees ball retention as the aim at Anfield then the Brazilian will get the nod.

However, in that type of pressure cooker atmosphere with a place in the final at stake, bringing Arthur on later in the game, once Vidal has given his all, might be a more sensible bet.

I wonder just how many cules have eaten a big slice of humble pie this morning? Those ‘supporters’ who prefer to think of any number of excuses to downplay the Chilean’s contributions when the reality is that they know he’s been every bit as vital as the likes of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi.

Every team needs a warrior. A player who leads from the front and enjoys the heat of the battle. Who drives all around him forward.

He might not play pretty football, but since when has that been a pre-requisite for success?

The true barometer of how good he is, is that we can now legitimately ask the question as to whether we’d prefer him playing for us or against us.

And we all know the answer to that one...