Quarter-finals: France – Colombia – Belgium – Costa Rica
World Cup progress: Round of 16
Team rating: 8
Top scorer: Alexis Sanchez (2)
Chile exceeded many people’s expectations by qualifying for the Last 16 before running into Brazil and out of luck, explains Mike Barnes.
Chile ever hotter
Chile won many friends in Brazil with their direct yet engaging all-action style. The aggressive pressing game espoused by Coach Jorge Sampaoli put their opponents – including hosts and favourites Brazil – under pressure and, for a while, La Roja looked like springing a surprise or two.
Beginning with a comfortable 3-1 win over Australia, Sampaoli’s men immediately hit their stride, with Alexis Sanchez opening the scoring and setting up the second for Jorge Valdivia. In their second game, the Chileans dumped Spain out of the competition, beating the world champions 2-0 at the Maracana, with Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aringuez on target.
A 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands after both sides had qualified can be largely overlooked, but then Chile found themselves up against Brazil. Alexis levelled after the hosts’ early strike and Mauricio Pinilla saw a 120th-minute effort cannon off the crossbar. Ultimately, Sampaoli’s men were undone in the cruellest way, Gonzalo Jara hitting a post with the decisive kick in the shootout.
The Coach – Jorge Sampaoli
Sampaoli had a wealth of talent at his disposal and his high-tempo brand of attacking football coupled with fluid passing moves played to the strength of key players Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Eduardo Vargas and Gary Medel. He fielded a consistent side and whilst the eventual defeat to Brazil was heart breaking, it was no disgrace.
Player of the Tournament – Alexis Sanchez
The Barcelona forward has been undervalued at Camp Nou and could be on his way elsewhere after a sparkling display in Brazil. The record shows just two goals, an assist and a shootout miss, but there was so much more to his game as Sanchez provided the focal point of the Chile attack.
Alexis Sanchez’s perfectly placed equaliser gave Chile hope, setting them up to match the hosts all the way until that fateful penalty shootout.
|28-Jun-14||Brazil||1-1||Chile||Round of 16|
|(3-2 on pens)|
For a complete review of the 2014 World Cup, check out the next issue of Soccer Italia, written by the team at Football Italia and available on worldwide subscription.