2014 World Cup Preview: Chile
Chile is a team that will be looking to build off an impressive 2010 World Cup where the team surprised the world and advanced to the round of 16. With the tournament being held on South American soil, all CONMEBOL teams will be looking to defend their home turf, and Chile will be one of the teams leading that charge.
The Chilean side finished third in CONMEBOL qualifying behind Argentina and Colombia, but it was not the team attack that let them down. La Roja scored 29 goals in 16 games, but also gave up 25 goals in the same span, which was more than any other automatic qualifier that is going to Brazil.
If Chile can sure up its defense, the team might be able to make a deep run in the tournament, but if the defense cannot fix its gaping holes, then La Roja will be heading home early.
Manager Jorge Sampaoli has done wonders for this team throughout qualifying, but came under scrutiny this year when he stated that it was not logical or realistic to think his team is a true contender for the title.
Although Chile struggled at times in World Cup qualification, they have a legitimate chance of making a deep run in this year’s tournament behind the presence of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal. Sanchez burst onto the scene in 2010 when he led Chile past the group stages and continued to blossom ever since making a real difference for his club team FC Barcelona. Vidal is widely revered for his aggressive play in the midfield and continues to rise through the ranks of great midfielders in the world. The attacking duo is key to the success of Chile and will need to produce goals in droves as the team’s defense is suspect at best.
Chile opens up group play against an Australia team that has been riddled with injuries in the buildup to the World Cup. La Roja should be able to grab all three-points from their opener and build toward matchups with Spain and the Netherlands. Chile will likely lose to Spain as the Spanish’s renowned midfield should be able to pick apart the Chilean’s porous defense, leading to a game with paramount ramifications against the Dutch.
In a game that will likely decide who goes through, Chile will likely have to at least produce a draw against a Netherlands side that is more than capable of scoring. Chile versus Netherlands should be one of the highest scoring games of the tournament as both teams have world-class attackers, but also feature some questionable defenses.
Chile have the talent to overcome this draw and advance to a possible continental showdown with Brazil, but emotions will be key on a team that is temperamental and capable of a meltdown.
Chile should find a way to get out of this group and set up a showdown with the host country. Chile will give Brazil all they can handle, but fall just short as La Roja falls again in the round of 16.
Greg Douglas is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.