Chile – World Cup 2014 – Group B

CHILE

13-June Australia (11pm GMT Cuiaba)

18-June Spain (5pm GMT Rio De Janeiro)

23-June Netherlands (5pm GMT Sao Paulo)

Chile finished third behind Argentina and Colombia in South American qualifying, but, as Joseph Walker writes, recent friendly performances have shown they won’t simply be making up the numbers

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Argentina-born Jorge Sampaoli has been in the job since 2012 after domestic success with Universidad de Chile. Sampaoli secured three wins from his first four games as Coach after replacing Claudio Borghi, helping the side recover from a stuttering start to qualification. The most notable difference was the re-instilling of the high-energy pressing game that La Roja had previously played under Marcelo Bielsa between 2007 and 2011.

Why they could be dangerous

Recent friendly outings against England (0-2 victory), Brazil (2-1 loss), Costa Rica (4-0 victory) and Germany (1-0 loss) have done enough to suggest that the squad – or at least the first XI – has enough strength to give the best sides in the world difficulty. Tactical flexibility will also be a huge advantage to Chile, who rarely finish a game with the same formation they start it with.

The world on his shoulders: Arturo Vidal

Being drawn in the same group as the 2010 finalists means that advancing would be a win in itself for the South American side, and if they are to go through it will, in no small part, be down to Arturo Vidal. One of the most exciting and dynamic midfielders playing in Europe, Juventus’ Vidal thrives under pressure, as his outstanding penalty against Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League showed.

Did you know?

In their last two World Cup appearances in 1998 and 2010, Chile have been knocked out by Brazil in the round of 16, 4-1 in France and 3-0 in South Africa. The way the draw has worked out this time, they could well meet the Seleção at the same stage this year too…

Country legend: Marcelo Salas

Marcelo ‘El Matador’ Salas is Chile’s leading goalscorer with 37. The striker impressed as Chile qualified for France ’98 after a 16-year absence from the world stage. His performances in France – four goals in four games – convinced Lazio he was worth shelling out £12m on. After three years in Rome he was signed by Juventus, but injury marred his time with the Old Lady. Despite this, he managed 37 goals in 71 games for his country, and a special mention must go to fellow striker Ivan Zamorano, with whom he formed a lethal partnership.

Formation: 4-3-3

Chile often change formation several times during games, which makes it extremely difficult for opposing managers to plan for their encounters. The high-tempo pressing game that saw them brush England aside at Wembley and have Germany sufficiently worried that Philip Lahm admitted they were the better side is a sign of how dangerous they can be. Alexis Sánchez leads from the front, running tirelessly for the good of the team, whilst Arturo Vidal will be expected to pull the strings in midfield for La Roja.

Chile versus…

…Australia P4 W3 D1 L0 F6 A1

…Spain P10 W0 D2 L8 F8 A25

…Netherlands P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

Stats

Population: 17.7 million

World Cup appearances: 8

Best finish: Third, Chile 1962

Famous for: Being disqualified from the 1990 World Cup – and being banned from qualifying for the 1994 tournament – after goalkeeper Roberto Rojas feigned being hit by a firework whilst the side trailed in a qualifying game against Brazil in order to have it abandoned.

Top Division: Primera División

How they got to the World Cup: Finished third in South American qualifying

FIFA World Ranking: 13

Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – Lost 3-0 to Brazil in the round of 16

Continental Honours: Runners up in 1995 and 1956 Copa America

Most Capped Player: Leonel Sánchez (84 caps)

Leading International Scorer: Marcelo Salas (37 goals)

Nickname: La Roja – The Reds