Chile vs. Australia: La Roja Far from Convincing Despite 3-1 Win over Socceroos

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Chile shouldn't bask in the glory of their 3-1 win over Australia for too long because coach Jorge Sampaoli has some major issues to iron out before La Roja's next match of the 2014 World Cup.

Spanish football journalist Dermot Corrigan summed up the dichotomy between Chile's first-half and second-half performances:

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Jorge Valdivia (L) and Mauricio Isla of Chile discuss a free kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Ge
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Zonal Marking's Michael Cox thought things took a turn for the worse after the 20th minute:

When Jorge Valdivia doubled the Chilean lead in the 14th minute, it looked like we might have Tahiti-levels of disparity between one team and the other. Australia were being ripped apart defensively and couldn't get the ball out of their own half.

But then a funny thing happened—nothing.

Chile ceded more and more of the match to the Socceroos. Tim Cahill halved the deficit in the 35th minute, and Australia came close to getting the match level.

Jean Beausejour scored an insurance goal in the 92nd minute to give La Roja a rather flattering 3-1 scoreline.

After the match, Sampaoli was happy to get the three points but acknowledged that they didn't come easily.

"The important thing was to win in order to have aspirations," he said, per Football Italia. "The team were worn down so it was important to get the result. We finished the match in complicated fashion, Chile had everything to get a more comfortable result."

Quite simply, if Chile play like this against Spain and the Netherlands, they're in trouble.

The most glaring issue is their lack of size in defense. You can bet that Vicente del Bosque and Louis van Gaal will have seen how easily Chile were getting beaten in the air against Australia:

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Head coach Jorge Sampaoli of Chile reacts on the sidelines during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Ima
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Dutch aren't known for their direct style, but they took to the air against Spain to great effect. According to, the Netherlands completed 69 long balls, compared to Spain's 43. Eighteen percent of their passes were of the longer variety. So much for Total Football.

That's a somewhat high percentage for a team renowned for its free-flowing, fluid attacking style. Van Gaal is decidedly pragmatic, and if he sees a weakness in the Chile defense, he won't be afraid to exploit it.

Even del Bosque will adjust his style after watching the Chile vs. Australia match. This is the whole reason he brought along Diego Costa. The Atletico Madrid striker can accommodate a more direct style than Spain are used to using.

Costa was poor against the Netherlands, but he could feast on the Chilean back line.

Chile's defensive problems could've been covered up if their attack continued its frenetic pace from early in the first half. When Australia realized that wasn't happening, they began testing La Roja's back four more often.

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrate victory after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Dean
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

That leads in to what Sampaoli's other major concerns are for the rest of the tournament.

He employs such a high-pressing style that his players can tire out, and once that happens, they have no other way with which to play.

Chile were very much a one-trick pony on Friday night. Sometimes that's all you need. But other times, it's evident that what you're doing isn't working and you need to go to Plan B.

Only Sampaoli and Chile didn't have a Plan B. They had their Plan A, and when that didn't work, they had nothing else to fall back on.

It was like watching Barcelona play against a team that bunkers in and puts 10 men behind the ball.

Chile have been lauded for their positive, entertaining approach to the game, but they might have to go back to the drawing board if they want to secure passage to the knockout stages.