When Arturo Vidal underwent knee surgery on May 7, the procedure was supposed to help the Chilean midfielder for the World Cup, correcting a problem that had lingered throughout the Serie A season. At least, that was one theory. Any time you get cut open, you never know.
One of those never knows has bitten Vidal, though. Now nearly five weeks after the procedure that tried to address his meniscus problem, the 27-year-old Juventus star is still experiencing inflammation in his right knee. Unable to train with his team in Belo Horizonte, Chile’s best player is a major doubt for his team’s June 13 opener against Australia.
He made a surprise comeback in last Wednesday’s 2-0 friendly victory over Northern Ireland, playing 15 minutes, but has not since been able to train with his team-mates. Tests carried out on Saturday revealed he had inflammation under his right kneecap.
Vidal trained apart with some light jogging during the 15 minutes Chile’s training session was open to the media, before kicking a ball, but only with his left foot.
Chile will still be favored to beat the Socceroos without Vidal, but the absence of La Roja’s best player would increase the upset’s odds. If that absence Vidal more effective against the Netherlands and Spain, however, that risk may be worth it.
At this point, it’s not even a choice, though. With his star unable to train, Jorge Sampaoli can’t play Vidal. Given how long this problem’s lingered, it’s unclear when that will change.
For a team many are picking to make it out of the tournament’s “Group of Death,” Vidal’s injury could be a tournament-defining blow. Even before the ball has started, Cinderella’s having trouble fitting her glass slipper.