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2018 FIFA World Cup contenders – Chile

2018 FIFA World Cup contenders – Chile

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Chile won their first major trophy in international football last summer when they triumphed at the Copa America at home after beating Argentina in an intense final at home. It was the first winner’s trophy for the South American nation in their 99 years of participating in the prestigious continental tournament.

The Chileans’ best performance at the World Cup came in the 1962 World Cup they hosted. At the same tournament they played the infamous “Battle of Santiago” against Italy that they won 2-0 after a goal each from Jaime Ramirez and Jorge Toro. Their foray at the tournament came to an end as they ran into Garrincha-inspired Brazil and lost 4-2. Garrincha, who was later named the player of the tournament, struck twice and Vava grabbed a brace of his own to put out the hosts. Chile faced Yugoslavia in the third place playoff and won 1-0 through an Eladio Rojas strike in the dying moments of normal time.

Chile have been unable to top that showing at the subsequent tournaments. However, they have made it to the knockout stage of the World Cup for the last two editions and, more importantly, they have done so playing attractive football.

At the 2010 edition they were managed by the maverick Argentine Marcelo Bielsa and played superlative attacking football. They were eventually beaten 3-0 by Brazil in the round of 16 clash to crash out of the tournament. Last year they were under the stewardship of Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentine schemer continued the great work done by Bielsa by leading the side to the round of 16. Chile defeated the then reigning world champions Spain 2-0 in the group stage. However, they were up against hosts Brazil for a second successive World Cup in the first knockout round, and after an intense battle bowed out in the penalty shootout. Nonetheless, they earned plaudits for their attractive brand of football.

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Sampaoli finally delivered the football-crazy nation its first major silverware when they defeated Argentina in the Copa America final last summer. The team assembled by the Argentine have some very good players, who together become more than the sum of their parts.

Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez is the leading forward of the side that also have Celta Vigo’s Fabian Orellana in their ranks. Hoffenheim striker Eduardo Vargas always performs well in the national colours.

La Roja are gifted with Arturo Vidal in midfield and the Bayern Munich midfielder runs the show from his favoured position. Jorge Valdivia was great at last summer’s triumph, although at 32 it remains to be seen for how long he continues. Felipe Gutierrez, and youngster Bryan Rebello are also valuable additions to the squad.

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They have some quality defenders in Eugenio Mena, Mauricio Isla and Enzo Roco. Meanwhile, Barcelona number 1 Claudio Bravo provides a safe pair of hands in goal.

Chile will be hoping to build on their performance at the last Copa America as they prepare for next summer’s Copa America Centenario and build up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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