Barcelona Striker Alexis Sanchez's Top 6 Chile Moments
One of the most fascinating and probably underrated players in the world is the Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez, who leaves heart, soul and skill on the pitch every time—at least with La Roja.
With the devastating end to Barcelona's season and their fall from grace, the collateral damage has resulted in, for the most part, harsh criticism for Sanchez.
Such critiques might well be justified, especially when you see his outstanding performances at the international level with Chile. And even though his future might be far from Barcelona, Chileans don’t care—Sanchez is one pegged to guide Chile to unprecedented horizons.
Along with Arturo Vidal, Sanchez is one of the two biggest stars of the South American nation which has seen both players grow and develop since the youth levels almost a decade ago.
Chileans trust that Alexis Sanchez will be at his prime in Brazil and give them more holy memories to embrace.
Here are six of Sanchez's most glorified days in the Chilean jersey.
U20 World Cup Dream Debut in Historic Chile’s Run
Chile had their best Under-20 World Cup back in 2007, finishing third on Canadian soil.
The Chilean squad was full of rising stars who eventually made their way to the senior national team; among them was Alexis Sanchez.
His best performance came in the second match of the tournament when Chile faced Congo. Sanchez scored the first goal of the game with a powerful long-range strike—and later set up the second score of the night—to lead Chile to a 3-0 win.
Even though "El Nino Maravilla" ("The Wonder Kid") struggled through much of the tournament afterward due to injury, his performance impressed enough that a couple of months later Marcelo Bielsa, the new coach of the senior national team, selected him for the first game in his era.
“Wonder Kid” Scores a Brace on Road to South Africa
On Chile's road to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Sanchez became a starter for "Loco" Bielsa's team.
Sanchez's response to the Argentine coach's confidence came via goals, as he scored his first official brace with La Roja against Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier game in June of 2009.
Chile destroyed Bolivia 4-0 with Sanchez scoring the third and fourth—the second of which being one for his best-goals repertoire.
Outstanding Performance vs. Honduras in World Cup 2010 Debut
By the time Chile opened their 2010 South African campaign against Honduras, they hadn't won a single World Cup game since 1962, when they hosted the event.
Almost 50 years later, led by manager Bielsa, a young generation of Chileans was able to break the winless streak.
Sanchez played a major role in Chile's offensive strategy—at times even coming back to initiate the attacks on La Roja's own half. That didn't seem to bother the striker, who delighted with his dribbling skills and quick feet.
The only thing missing for him was a goal itself, though it ended up not mattering as the Chileans won the game and eventually advanced to the second round.
Equalizer Goal Against Uruguay at Copa America 2011
After forming one of the most lethal attacking duos with Antonio Di Natale in the 2010-11 Serie A season for Udinese, Sanchez was selected to play at the 2011 Copa America.
In the first two group-stage matches against Mexico and Uruguay, the Chilean was selected as the man of the match.
He scored a goal against La Celeste with a quick toe strike reminiscent of Ronaldo's 2002 World Cup semi-final goal against Turkey. The game ended in a 1-1 draw that sealed a spot for Chile in the second round.
Days later, FC Barcelona confirmed that Sanchez was being acquired from Udinese.
Goal and Assist Against Ecuador to Seal 2014 World Cup Berth
In CONMEBOL's last match week of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 and subsequently got a direct ticket to Brazil.
Alexis Sanchez proved that in decisive matches with La Roja, he is the type of player that raises his game.
It took him about four minutes to give Chile a two-goal advantage from which Ecuador were unable to recover.
Sanchez scored the first goal of the game with a superb header followed with a euphoric celebration during which he doffed his jersey and showed he had been at the gym. This ultimately led Spanish sports website MundoDeportivo.com to nickname the Chilean striker "The Incredible Hulk."
The second goal of the game came on a corner kick that "Hulk" telegraphed to the far post for Gary Medel to send it to the back of the net.
Emulating Marcelo Salas in Legendary Wembley
There are a few sacred football cathedrals in the world to consecrate, and Alexis Sanchez glorified himself in a friendly at Wembley with a brace against England last November.
If destiny exists, and presages go hand-in-hand, then we are about to witness greatness from the forward in a few weeks. Sanchez's performance resembled what fellow countryman and childhood hero Marcelo "El Matador" Salas did previous to France '98 at that same cathedral.
Both of Sanchez's goals against the English had a degree of beauty: the first with a diving header, and the second with a classy finish in a 1-v-1 situation with the keeper.