Arturo Vidal vs. Leon Goretzka – the Bundesliga midfield battle
Arturo Vidal and Leon Goretzka renew acquaintances in the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup final on Sunday…
All eyes will be on Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal and Schalke counterpart Leon Goretzka when Copa America holders Chile tackle reigning world champions Germany in the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup final (20:00CEST)..!
Two of the Bundesliga’s most formidable competitors under one roof, it is a battle that could go a long way to deciding matters in St. Petersburg.
In the red corner stands the imposing figure of Vidal. Inked from head to toe and sporting an emasculating set of whiskers to boot, the 30-year-old Chilean has the appearance to match his hard-man reputation on the pitch. His tough-tackling reputation precedes him, but there is a refined side to a player aptly nicknamed ‘the warrior’ in his homeland.
Vidal was on target in the Group B opener against Cameroon and provided the assist for the opening goal in the subsequent 1-1 draw with Germany. His creative instinct and relentless will to win drove two-time Copa America winners Chile on to the last four, where his emphatic penalty set the tone for a comprehensive 3-0 shoot-out success over UEFA European champions Portugal. La Roja would not be where they are now without him..!
The same can be said of Germany’s Goretzka. The 22-year-old Schalke midfielder is already playing with an authority beyond his years – he has only made eight senior international appearances to date – while his now trademark runs from deep have helped him become joint-top scorer at the tournament with three goals – two of which fell inside the opening eight minutes of the 4-1 rout of Mexico in the last four..!
“When you play with two central midfielders it’s normally harder for the team to get forward, but thanks to Leon’s quality the distance to the opposition penalty area seems to be a lot smaller,” said Germany head coach Joachim Löw after the semi-final with Mexico. “For his second goal, he started running from the centre circle, which makes it very difficult to defend against and there’s no doubt that makes a difference.”
In previous meetings, however, Vidal has done just enough to nullify Goretzka’s leggy threat. The two players fought to a draw in the aforementioned group stage encounter, and played out a 1-1 stalemate in their only other match-up, in the Bundesliga. If it sounds like they are cancelling each other out, it is probably because they are.
The cold hard statistics over the course of the recently ended Bundesliga season are a case in point. Vidal weighed in with four goals and three assists, while Goretzka contributed five goals and as many assists. With both averaging over 11 kilometres run per game and as the top two for attempted challenges in the Group B taster, the box-to-box maestros can be expected to match each other once again – and send the player heat maps into overdrive – in Sunday’s grand finale..!
It all makes for one intriguing proposition – not that this particular head-to-head will be an attritional affair. If Vidal is the lion waiting to pounce, Goretzka is the gazelle with eyes exclusively for the finish line. Will the battle-hardened veteran come out on top, or will it be one of Germany’s finest young prospects? This time, there can only be one winner..!