What Chile Need to do to Shock England

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor INovember 14, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15:  Alexis Sanchez #7 of Chile moves with the ball during a soccer game against Ecuador at Citi Field on August 15, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

England could hardly have chosen a better opponent than Chile to gauge their progress ahead of the Brazil 2013 World Cup.

The Three Lions take on Jorge Sampaoli's side in a international friendly at Wembley on Friday in what should prove a stern test for the hosts.

Not only are Chile in excellent form, they present a style of passing football that has often troubled English teams in the past.

They also form a part of South America's strongest World Cup contingent in many years.

Any side hoping to progress deep into the tournament will almost certainly have to get past one or more of the host continent's representatives, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and, most likely, Uruguay (pending the second leg of their playoff tie against Jordan, which they lead 5-0).

Chile boast an abundance of skillful and dynamic players in the center of the pitch, and England's midfield will face a genuine examination of its credentials this Friday.

For the South American side to reproduce their famous friendly win at Wembley in 1998, they will need to outfox Roy Hodgson's team in the middle of the park. And they are more than capable of doing so.

Gifted dribblers and passers of the ball such as Mauricio Isla, Arturo Vidal, Jorge Valdivia and Charles Aranguiz will look to ensure their side retains the majority of possession while forcing England's players to work hard in closing them down.

Gary Medel adds some defensive steel to the mix, while up front Alexis Sanchez is in blistering form for Barcelona and should punish any English mistakes in defense.

The Chileans are more than just a collection of talented individuals, however. As Jonathan Wilson explains in the Guardian, Sampaoli has carried on the legacy of the attack-minded Marcelo Bielsa, who guided the team to an impressive showing at the 2010 World Cup:

There is a swagger about them again, Sampaoli's wild eyes and attacking philosophy beginning to rekindle the embers of Bielsa's time. "I believe that the only way to succeed is by uniting players with a love of playing," Sampaoli said.

"You try to inspire in them a love of the shirt derived of enjoyment, not obligation. When you succeed in this individualistic society, it is by committing to something intangible, with humility.

That allows everybody to come together; the social or cultural background of the people involved doesn't matter." 

If Sanchez and company are to topple England in their own back yard, they must approach the game with the swagger to which Wilson refers. 

Sitting back and absorbing pressure is not in the side's DNA, nor would it be wise to concede the run of play to the opposition. 

As Cindy Garcia-Bennett reports in the Independent, the former Udinese man is respectful of England's standing in the game:

Sanchez said in the pre-match press conference:

It gives me great pride to face England.

They are one of the strongest teams in the world. England could easily win the World Cup.

For me it's a privilege to play against them.

I believe it's going to be a beautiful game.

You don't play every day against a strong team like them and for us it's going to be historic.

Respecting your opponent, especially when playing away from home, is a good thing. Becoming overawed by the occasion is not.

No doubt Sampaoli will be doing everything he can to ensure his players approach the task at hand with their usual confident, attacking style of football.

If Chile can reproduce their qualifying form in the Wembley clash, England will certainly have their hands full.


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