Group B is the one of death, as they say, and the Chileans are no mugs with their FIFA ranking of 14 telling a large part of the story.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli has brought together a side that’s a treat to watch, with fluent passing and a high pressing game, but they’re also a bugger to play as England discovered at Wembley last year when beaten 2-0.
While Spain and the Netherlands are ranked above them, Chile will fancy their chances against Australia, the lowest ranked team in the tournament.
Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez is a world class winger and has been in top form for club and country. Similarly, Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal in a lynchpin for the side who needs to be contained, even if he’s recovering from a knee injury.
Chile know his value but Jorge Valdivia isn’t the household name he could be if he was at a big club in Europe rather than at Brazil’s Palmeiras. His nickname, The Magician, should explain all you need to know about the classic creative No 10.
Man in charge
Jorge Sampaoli came in for Claudio Borghi during Chile’s qualifying and turned their fortunes around.The Argentinean born manager is an entertaining presence on the sideline with rich experience throughout South America, namely Peru, Ecuador and Chile.
How they got there
Chile finished third in the tough CONMEBOL (South America) group despite losing four games in a row in the middle of the tournament.
They then won five of their last six games to finish two points behind second-placed Colombia – and four behind Argentina. Brazil, as hosts, were automatic qualifiers. Finished ahead of Ecuador and Uruguay, who had to beat Jordan to qualify.
World Cup history
They’ve only qualified for three of the last eight World Cup finals, but made the last 16 in 1998 and 2010. Will want to find a way to win the group since every time they make the knockout phase they get beaten by Brazil – the second round in 1998 and 2010, and semi-finals in 1962. The group B runner-up will likely meet Brazil in the round of 16, assuming the hosts win their group.
If Chile have a weakness it’s probably in their depth, with their quality diminishing significantly if their best XI isn’t available. Unfortunately for Ange Postecoglou’s side, they cop them fresh and hungry for a big win in a group where goal difference could be critical.
Chile v Australia at Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, on Friday June 13, kick-off 11pm
Image via Getty