The Newsroom reviews each team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Team: Chile.
Looking to emulate the efforts of the 1962 national team who finished third on home soil, Chile possesses a squad capable of troubling anyone. Falling to Brazil in the round of 16 in South Africa, the current batch of players will look to improve their performances.
Chile had an inconsistent start to qualifying, compounded by a four-game losing streak in the middle of their campaign. After manager Claudio Borghi was sacked, Jorge Sampaoli rallied the team to avoid an intercontinental playoff. Chile finished third in the South American CONMEBOL conference.
The Chileans will feature in the dreaded group B in Brazil, where they were drawn alongside Australia, Spain and the Netherlands.
FIFA World Ranking: 13th
Strengths: The engine room of the Chilean set-up purrs like a cat in the sun and it seems to matter little which players are named to start in the centre of the park. Arturo Vidal is amongst the world’s elite at the moment, and if declared fit is one of the first on the team sheet for Chile. Jorge Valdivia and Charles Aranguiz join Vidal in a midfield of craft and cunning.
Weaknesses: Chile like to play a brand of high intensity, thrilling football with heavy emphasis on forward flooding and acute pressure when they do not have possession. Chile can trouble the best sides worldwide; however, when it goes awry they are left susceptible to counter-attack. In a competition where pace is key, Chile will need to implement their attacking brand of football flawlessly.
Key player: With Vidal in a race against time to recover from knee surgery, Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez sticks out as the key to Chilean success this campaign. The 169cm forward scored 16 goals for his club side last season, including a stunning 20-yard chip in the first El Clasico, and has 22 international goals to his name. If the midfield can provide service to the 25-year old, we can expect to see something special from him.
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli did his reputation a power of good after being hired to get Chile’s qualification campaign back on track. The Argentine is best known for his exciting, attacking brand of football.
Prediction: Despite the strength of the team, I think Chile’s poor draw will see them knocked out in the group stage by the highly competitive Spain and Holland. – Patrick Boddan