Arturo Vidal

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Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

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Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

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La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.

Vidal tells Dembele he must ‘mature’ to reach Barcelona potential

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32-year-old Arturo Vidal has been playing for Champions League contenders nearly his entire career, and with 501 first-team professional appearances plus another 113 international caps, younger talent would be wise to listen to his advice.

Even the advice that might be hard to hear.

Vidal came down hard on his 22-year-old Barcelona teammate, saying the French international “has to mature” and “become aware of what he really wants in life.”

Dembele arrived at Barcelona as a highly-touted young Borussia Dortmund talent in the summer of 2017 for a hefty $140 million fee. In his two years at Barcelona thus far, Dembele has yet to truly grasp a first-team place thanks to injuries and inconsistent form. Vidal believes an improved attitude could help Dembele become a true contributor.

“Ousmane is a football player who has a crazy talent,” Vidal told French publication L’Equipe. “When he reaches maturity, he will be an important player for Barça and for France. But, clearly, he has to mature. Listen to his body, be better prepared to avoid injuries. If you want to be the best, you should get up, eat and go to bed thinking about football. I think Ousmane will realize at some point that he has to do more.”

Those are harsh words from a teammate, but Vidal may be onto something. Dembele has been the subject of many stories regarding his personality, from the distancing of his mother to a possible video game addiction. Former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel called him “a little crazy.” He is reportedly late to everything which has cost him a significant amount of money.

“I talk to him a lot. He is a good boy and he is the first to want to be the best. He arrived at Barça at age 20, without much experience. Ousmane must become aware of what he really wants in life, know where he plays and who he plays with. But I think I see an evolution. It must continue like this.”

Dembele has just three league appearances this season thanks to a hamstring problem, and was sent off in his last appearance against Sevilla before the international break. He remains one of the brightest young talents in the European game, but is slowly creeping towards consideration as a bust if he can’t put together a good run in the Barcelona first team and help the club kick into a new gear.

Chile feeling rejuvenated in search for third straight Copa America crown

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With all eyes on Tuesday’s heavyweight bout between Brazil and Argentina, Chile is pumping its chest as two-time defending Copa America champions, but there’s an unexpected feeling of rebirth around the aging squad as well.

Alexis Sanchez, who struggled through last season at Manchester United, has suddenly returned to form at the competition with a pair of goals and an assist. According to Chile head coach Reinaldo Rueda, there’s one secret ingredient Sanchez is missing at Manchester United which has seen him back to his best this summer.

“Love,” Rueda tabbed as the special sauce in his pre-match press conference. “In the national team and because of the attention they receive, the players don’t want to leave. Despite not playing for their clubs, they come here with commitment and forge a strong group.”

Rueda pointed to others in the South American competition who struggled at their clubs this season and are experiencing a rebirth at the Copa America. “That’s why players like [Barcelona’s Philippe] Coutinho, [Real Madrid’s] James [Rodriguez], or Alexis, who didn’t have a great season, become themselves again with the national team.”

Midfielder Arturo Vidal is on board with that mentality, motivated not only by the camaraderie among the players and adoration fromt he fans, but the goal in front of them: a historic third straight Copa America.

“We want to leave our legacy as triple champions, that’s our dream,” Vidal said. “That’s why we want to play our best match of the Copa against Peru. It would be something historic for us to get to the final and that’s our aim.”

Argentina is the only country to ever win three straight Copa America titles, securing it between 1945-47. Even as Uruguay and Argentina dominated South America in the 1910’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s and the competition was held on a more regular basis, it was still difficult to sustain repeated success.

As Chile meets a Peru side that held Uruguay off the scoresheet before winning on penalties, the old guard in Sanchez, Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Mauricio Isla and captain Gary Medel – all over the 30-year-old mark – has to continue tapping into its youthful edge to attain a period of domination unmatched in over 70 years.

Barcelona ships four goals in loss to Real Betis

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The top of the La Liga table is nowhere near straightforward this season.

Barcelona failed to build a gap at the summit as they fall 4-3 at home against Real Betis on Sunday. Lionel Messi scored twice in his return from a broken arm, but was unable to overcome a multitude of defensive mistakes.

Junior Firpo, Joaquin, Giovani Lo Celso, and Sergio Canales all found the scoresheet for the visitors at the Camp Nou as they routed the Barcelona back line.

The first came from 22-year-old Firpo in the 20th minute who finished with his right foot one-on-one against Sergi Roberto after a brilliant long-distance feed from William Carvalho. Barcelona would fall 2-0 behind before halftime as Clément Lenglet whiffed attempting to clear a cross that skittered across the face of goal, and with the defenders all sucked towards net by the fast paced counter-attack, Cristian Tello cut the ball back into the middle where Joaquin was waiting to finish with a nifty little flick. Messi brought Barcelona a goal back from the penalty spot past the hour mark, but Giovani Lo Celso found space in the box just three minutes later and powered it home past Marc-Andre ter Stegen who got a touch.

Arturo Vidal again drew Barcelona within one before Betis would find the ultimate winning goal in the 83rd minute in a vicious flurry. Betis forced ter Stegen to come off his line and make a smothering save near the left post, which he did before booting the chance clear. It came right back at the Barcelona defense, however, as a streaking Junior Firpo cannoned the ball across the face of goal where Sergio Canales split Lenglet and Roberto with a sliding finish.

Barcelona’s defense has suffered greatly in the absence of Samuel Umtiti, who was unable to return from his knee injury in time to be fit for the match against Real Betis, having missed nearly six weeks. Lenglet has filled in during Umtiti’s absence, and Barcelona has conceded nine goals over the last four matches with the understudy in the lineup. Thomas Vermaelen has also been absent with a hamstring injury suffered after he played 90 minutes against Valencia in early October.

With the loss, Barcelona holds just a one-point lead over Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and Alaves at the top of the La Liga table, with Espanyol three points back and Real Madrid still seven points behind.

Reports: Barcelona completes Vidal move ahead of Inter

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It seemed like 31-year-old Arturo Vidal would be headed back to Serie A, but oh how things can change in the course of a few days.

With Inter appearing to close in on the Chilean international, Barcelona swooped in and snatched Vidal out from under the Italian club’s nose, reportedly completing the deal for $35 million.

Vidal has won a league title in each of his last seven seasons, the last three at Bayern Munich and the four prior at Serie A giants Juventus. The midfielder has proven his world-class status time and again, as a rock in the midfield for both clubs and in exactly 100 caps for his country. However, injuries last season limited him to just 22 Bundesliga appearances, pushing Bayern to let him go.

The Chilean will serve as a direct replacement for Paulinho, who was stellar in his year at Barcelona before returning to the Chinese top flight. Paulinho struggled mightily in the World Cup with Brazil, and was then shipped back to Chinese club Guanzhou Evergrande a year after leaving.

Meanwhile, at Bayern, the rise of Corentin Tolisso made Vidal expendable, with the French international proving a viable option for title-hungry club. Between Tolisso, Thiago, Sebastian Rudy, Javi Martinez, and the versatile Joshua Kimmich, Bayern will be just fine in the middle of the pitch.

Vidal’s capture pushed Barcelona’s expenditure this summer over $130 million, having already secured French defender Clement Lenglet, plus Brazilian duo Malcom and Arthur.