The 2014 World Cup qualifying stage will feature a high-stakes matchup on Friday between Chile and Venezuela.
Chile and Venezuela both enter the match with hopes still alive of making it to Brazil next summer, but the road looks a bit tougher ahead for the Venezuelans. They're tied for fifth place with Uruguay, which has a game in hand.
Meanwhile, the Chileans look to close out an impressive summer by punching their ticket to Brazil next summer, and a win on Friday would greatly improve their chances of staying in the top four. Both squads have just three matches left to secure a place in Brazil.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know for Friday's matchup.
When: Friday, September 6 at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Estadio Nacional de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Watch: beIN Sport en Espanol, beIN Sport Play
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying
Below is an updated table of the CONMEBOL standings (via ESPN).
Key Matchup: Chile Center-Backs vs. Venezuela Attackers
October 16, 2012 was the last time Chile gave up more than one goal in a World Cup qualifying match (a 2-1 loss to Argentina).
Since, the Chileans are 3-1 and have given up just two goals in their last three matches (all wins).
Despite their recent successes in the qualifying stage, things haven't been so certain for the squad as of late. Mason Bryan of The Santiago Times said Wednesday that Venezuela's attack could pose more problems for Chile than they saw in a recent friendly win over Iraq.
Defence is certainly the thinnest area in Chile’s squad. Against Iraq, Sampaoli played an attacking backline without a recognized center back — this system proved devastating to the opposition, though Venezuela’s aggressive attack is sure to pose more problems than the Middle Eastern side.
Things may have changed for Chile's back line since they last played a World Cup qualifying match in mid-June, and a friendly win over Iraq isn't enough for us to truly tell. Friday will surely offer some clarity as to where Chile's defense stands.
Top Story: Chile To Honor Anniversary With "Silent Goal"
Chile's national team and fans are being asked to shy away from screaming and yelling after their first goal on Friday to pay tribute to a military coup 40 years ago, according to Reuters (via Yahoo! Sports).
Days after a military coup on 11 September 1973, around 12 000 suspected leftists were rounded up and herded into the National Stadium, which was used as an interrogation and torture centre.
The viral campaign, #goldesilencio (silent goal), which quickly trended on Twitter, is ran by human rights campaigners Amnesty International.
The celebration—or lack thereof—should Chile score a goal on Friday will certainly be worth paying attention to.
Chile boasts too much of an offensive attack—with Matias Fernandez and Eduardo Vargas combining for five goals each in qualifying—for the Venezuelans to deal with. On top of that, the underdogs Venezuela will be fortunate to net more than one goal.
Those two factors put together make picking up three points (or even one point) incredibly difficult for Venezuela, as Chile will cruise to an all-important victory that will put it closer to qualification.
Chile 3, Venezuela 1