Professional footballers are paid an extraordinary amount of money. Players at the very top of the game earn the sort of money that very few people in the world can dream of. With that in mind it’s remarkable how many of them can keep bad habits throughout their careers.

Arturo Vidal has always been a hot-head. His passion and fire is part of what makes him a great midfielder. However it’s also what makes him a liability. Players with the same drive and motor as Vidal have learnt to control themselves, not Vidal.

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On Wednesday evening Vidal became just the third player in the history of the Champions League to be sent off for three different teams.

It wasn’t just that Vidal was sent off with his team already a goal down, following a needless challenge from Nico Barella on Nacho to give away a penalty. It wasn’t just that he was sent off in a game his team had to win. It was that he was sent off in a game his team had to win and were a goal down in the most stupid of ways.

After feeling he was fouled in the area Vidal remonstrated with referee Anthony Taylor, who had elected (correctly) not to give a penalty. Vidal was shown a yellow card for his behaviour towards the referee, in line with the rule book. The yellow card is a sign from a referee that players have gone too far in protesting a decision and they should step away. It’s a warning shot to the rest of the team.

But Vidal wasn’t finished. Rather than back away he went right up to Taylor and got in the referee’s face. Taylor, as he was perfectly within his rights to do so, showed Vidal a second yellow card. A red card in 10 seconds.

Vidal is 33. He prides himself on not shying away from the fight. But he let himself, his team and his manager down. Antonio Conte brought him to Inter to be the elder statesman in a relatively young team. An experienced head to help steer the ship. This was one of the most important games of Inter’s season, and he dropped his team in it because he couldn’t control his emotions.

There were other mistakes from Inter. They were sloppy on the ball, and failed to really trouble Thibaut Courtois. Some of Conte’s changes begged questioning, and he will be under intense pressure after this result. Inter are technically still alive in the Champions League but they will need to show a fight that is as of yet unseen this season.

Arturo Vidal was sent off by Anthony Taylor

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In the other dugout Zinedine Zidane will be thrilled with a night’s work that has seen his team take six points from their two fixtures against Inter. They are now second in the group behind an impressive Borussia Monchengladbach who still have to come to the Bernabeu.

He will be especially pleased given how many players were missing. There was no Federico Valverde, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos or Eder Militao. Brazilian trio Casemiro, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were all left on the bench to start with. Instead Martin Odegaard made his Champions League debut, Mariano Diaz led the line once more, and there was another opportunity for Eden Hazard.

Odegaard did very well playing alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and Hazard show glimpses of the talent that had Real chasing him for so long. It’s still been over a year since the Belgian completed a full 90 at club level but after so many injury problems it’s going to take time for him to get up to speed.

Like Inter, Real have been disappointing this season. Similar to his opposite number Zidane has found himself under pressure, if not at such an intense level. It still feels as if Zidane isn’t sure of his best line-up or tactical system but he can be certain that he has plenty of options at his disposal.

coach Antonio Conte of Internazionale during the UEFA Champions League match between Internazionale v Real Madrid at the San Siro on November 25, 2020 in Milan Italy

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Of all the European giants only Bayern Munich have displayed the consistency required to win the Champions League this season. If one assumes the holders will make it back to the final the other spot is certainly up for grabs. Zidane will know that his team are as capable as anyone of putting together a run.

As for Inter the vultures are going to be circling for Conte. Rivals AC Milan are five points ahead of them at the top of the Serie A table, they are the darlings of Europe with the way they have played this season. Whilst the red and black half of Milan appears to be operating like a smooth, well-oiled machine, Inter appear more disjointed than ever. Their plight was perfectly summed up by Christian Eriksen, once highly courted but now no longer wanted, who stood waiting for a number of minutes as the ball refused to go out and give him a chance to come on as a late substitute. One or both of Conte and Eriksen won’t be at Inter very soon, it remains to be seen which.

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