What would you say is most likely to get you leaping out of your seat at the stadium or off your sofa at home?
A – A defence-splitting pass
B – A piece of skill to beat a man
C – A clean, crunching tackle
If your answer is C, you are probably an old-fashioned style of football fan who loves tough yet fair play – perhaps enjoying the virtues of a combative never-give-up midfielder à la Gennaro Gattuso to any of the world's football 'artists'. Furthermore, you surely would have appreciated the performance of Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal at Chelsea FC last Wednesday, no matter which team you were supporting.
The 25-year-old Chilean international midfielder was being treated for a twisted ankle on the sidelines when Chelsea scored the opener through Oscar, and he had only just returned to the game when the Brazilian added another. It was a tremendous one-two punch for the Italian champions to absorb but the Bianconeri's legs did not wobble, even if Vidal was visibly limping in midfield.
He continued to play through the pain until scoring the goal before the interval which gave Juve hope. "We showed the same heart as last year in Serie A," said Vidal after Fabio Quagliarella completed the fightback to give Juventus a 2-2 draw at the home of the reigning European champions. "We want to play in three competitions and this is the Juventus we need to see every game."
Il gol dello zoppo – the limping-man goal, as it is known in Italy – is nothing new in football. The most famous in the folklore of the Italian game was Angelo Schiavio's extra-time effort in the 1934 FIFA World Cup final against Czechoslovakia. The exhausted striker could hardly move – there was no allowance for substitutions at that time – but still managed to score the winner for the Azzurri.
In the 1955/56 season, the heralded SSC Napoli striker Luís Vinício scored twice in the late stages of a game against AC Milan despite carrying a serious knee ligament injury from the first half which subsequently forced him out for three months. And as befits his reputation in the city, the Brazilian was nicknamed O' Lione – the Lion in the colourful dialect of Naples.
"Lions in London" was the headline of Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport the day after the draw at Stamford Bridge while all the Italian press were united in praising the "warrior" Vidal. Playing with this spirit, epitomised by their injured goalscorer, Juventus can certainly continue their dominance in Italy and could also have a say in Europe.
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