Juventus essentially made Arturo Vidal the best midfielder in the world. The blank canvas Serie A provided allowed Vidal to experiment. During Vidal’s time in Turin from 2011-2015, Juve won the league every single year. Domestically, it also won two Supercopas, a Copa Italia.
What Juve allowed Vidal more than anything was breathing room. There’s no question Vidal played his own (mammoth) part in elevating The Old Lady, but there’s a certain kind of comfort engendered by dominance. Vidal could lapse a bit, play his box-to-box role and nobody would notice the small gaps.
Now his coach is Pep Guardiola. And Pep Guardiola notices the small gaps.
Vidal’s day in Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend was, on paper, very good. He completed 86 percent of his 64 passes, went 6-7 on his long balls and had a team-leading six tackles and four interceptions. But those old habits crept back in as Bayern asserted its dominance and the game flailed away from Leverkusen.
Guardiola is an exacting manager, which has either engendered his players to him or driven a wedge between them. Serie A is a more methodical league than Germany, and where Antonio Conte allowed him to linger in the midfield while the ball came to him, he’s got a different manager on his back now. Regardless of the scoreboard. Pep is essentially reforming Vidal in his image.
This helps explain Guardiola’s neuroses when it comes to tactical discipline. It is never enough. Vidal will learn that in time. Meanwhile, he’ll have to stay switched on more. Crazy thing to say about arguably the world’s most complete midfielder, isn’t it?