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Closer look at Chile

by isport

With the Socceroos’ opening game against Chile in the World Cup just a few days away – it’s time to take a closer look at the Chilean team’s prospects for the tournament…

And let’s be absolutely clear here; Chile are no make-weights for this World Cup. They deservedly see themselves as genuine contenders – and you can bet they fully expect to win the opener against Australia which is their easiest game on paper.

Of course, Socceroos fans will be fervently hoping this is not the case – but this looks to be a forlorn hope according to the bookies’ odds at any rate. As things stand, Chile are a best-priced 4-1 with bookmaker bet365 to win Group B. The Socceroos, meanwhile, are any price at up to 100-1. Chile may be a shrewd bet at this price – because this still makes them just third favourites behind World Cup holders Spain at 4/6 with bet365 to win the group – followed by 2010 runners-up Holland at around 11/4.

But don’t be surprised if Chile put a spanner in everybody’s works. They are very much the tournament’s dark horses with a wealth of talent on offer and a very strong manager in the shape of Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Chile’s players have demonstrated that they can impose their attacking game on any team. The strong midfielder Arturo Vidal would make the first 11 of pretty much any side in the world, whilst striker Alexis Sanchez is truly world class and amazingly tricky.

On the other hand, it’s true to say that defence hasn’t been Chile’s strong point – particularly in the air. This, of course, is the price they’ve had to pay for an opening and free attacking style. But it does give Australia some hope. What’s more - Marcos Gonzalez, Chile’s mainstay for defensive height, is currently without a club. He’s been in training at Chile’s national facility in Santiago, but he may well lack a little full match fitness and overall sharpness.

And in attack, there are also doubts over the centre-forward’s position. Unfortunately for Chile, Monterrey striker Humberto Suazo looks unlikely to be fit for the tournament, and no other player has truly made the centre forward’s position his own. Both the afore-mentioned Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas (currently at Valencia on loan from Napoli) are highly talented and tricky. But on those occasions like set-pieces when attacking height and sheer presence is required; Chile may just be found lacking.

This was confirmed in their recent encounter with Germany which Chile lost 1- despite dominating the game.

So it’s a case of wait and see. The Chileans will see the opener against the Socceroos on Friday June 13th as a shoo-in. And if they win it as comfortably as they hope – it could well give them a springboard to have a real crack at the Spanish and Dutch – on their own continent of course. Let’s hope for Australia fans that that isn’t the case – but Chile look capable of beating the best on their day and are true dark horse for the whole tournament at around 40-1.