Chile World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament
Chile’s high-energy, attack-minded football will ensure they are one of the most watchable teams at World Cup 2014. But a strong conclusion to their qualifying campaign, allied to impressive performances against the likes of Brazil, England and Germany in subsequent friendlies, suggests they could be far more than just an attractive sideshow this summer.
With top-quality players, an eccentric yet successful coach and an exciting style of play on their side, Chile could well cause an upset or two in Brazil.
Find out everything you need to know about La Roja in our team guide.
Road to the Finals
Chile suffered heavy defeats away to Argentina and Uruguay in two of their first three qualifiers but recovered to record three consecutive victories. However, subsequent defeats away to Ecuador and at home to Colombia and Argentina left them outside the qualifying positions and saw pressure build on then-coach Claudio Borghi.
Defeat in a friendly against Serbia in November was the final straw. Former Universidad de Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli was brought in to replace Borghi and quickly set about resurrecting Chile’s faltering campaign.
Sampaoli tasted defeat in his first competitive match, losing 1-0 away to Peru, but his side embarked on a strong run of results, winning five and drawing one of their final six qualifiers to finish the group in third place and qualify for a second consecutive World Cup.
Jorge Sampaoli named his final 23-man squad on June 1, as per the Asociacion Nacional de Futbol Profesional.
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
Defenders: Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo)
Midfielders: Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo-Colo), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Felipe Gutierrez (Twente), Francisco Silva (Osasuna)
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Esteban Paredes (Colo-Colo), Eduardo Vargas (Napoli), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo)
For full details of the squad members, check out our player-by-player guide.
Jorge Sampaoli rose to prominence as coach of the Universidad de Chile side that won three Chilean league titles and the Copa Sudamericana between 2011 and 2012. They played with an intensity mirrored in Sampaoli’s perpetual movement on the sidelines, pressing high up the pitch and attacking in waves of carefully synchronised movement.
The Argentinian is a confessed admirer of his compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, the man who led Chile to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. His methods have proved an ideal match for a national team squad consisting largely of players who were coached by Bielsa or benefited from his philosophy cascading down to Chile’s youth national teams.
The 54-year-old, who has also coached in Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, is one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches in world football and will surely attract plenty of suitors if he is able to lead Chile to the knockout stages. He is, however, contracted to the national team until 2018.
Arturo Vidal could certainly stake claim to being Chile’s star man, but having recently undergone knee surgery he is unlikely to be fully fit for the start of the tournament. In his absence, it is Alexis Sanchez who will take on the mantle.
Sanchez comes into the World Cup on the back of his best season to date at club level in terms of goals. He scored 19 times for the Barcelona side who finished as runners-up in La Liga and also provided 10 assists.
However, while Sanchez is just another cog in the machine at Barcelona, he plays a central role for the national team. Usually employed as one of two mobile forwards, he drifts laterally and vertically across the pitch, picking up the ball and running at the opposition defence or linking with team-mates.
His performance in Chile’s recent 3-2 friendly victory over Egypt exemplified his importance to the team. Egypt raced into an early two-goal lead before Sanchez led the Chilean comeback, providing the assists for all three of their goals. His through balls to Eduardo Vargas for the second and third goals were both superbly weighted.
The Tocopilla native was part of the Under-20 squad that finished third at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup and also played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the senior team. He has scored 22 goals in 66 appearances for La Roja.
One to Watch
He may not be a household name throughout Europe but Basel midfielder Marcelo Diaz plays an integral role for Chile as the tempo-setter from deep.
Diaz rose to prominence at Universidad de Chile under Sampaoli’s guidance, impressing with his metronomic passing, sound positioning and excellent reading of the game. He has taken on the same defensive midfield role for the national team and is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Diaz was particularly majestic in Chile’s friendly victory over England in November, expertly controlling the pace of the game with accurate passes of varying length. His excellent touch and cool head under pressure saw him neatly extricate himself from a number of potentially difficult situations.
He will have to perform at a similar level in Brazil if Chile are to live up to their promise.
World Cup Record
|World Cup Appearances||8|
|Best Performance||Third Place (1962)|
|Most Appearances||9 (Elias Figueroa and Leonel Sanchez)|
|Most Goals||4 (Leonel Sanchez and Marcelo Salas)|
|Most Goals in a Match||2 (Carlos Vidal, Atilio Cremaschi,|
|Leonel Sanchez, Marcelo Salas)|
|Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Carlos Carmona, Alexis Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia, Jean Beausejour, Fabian Orellana, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara and Esteban Paredes were all part of Chile’s squad at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.|
Chile vs. Australia, June 13 (Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba)
Chile vs. Spain, June 18 (Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro)
Chile vs. Netherlands, June 23 (Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo)