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World Cup 2014 Guide: Chile

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Chile will make their second appearance on the spin at this year’s World Cup and might well have been a dark horse for a quarter-final appearance until they were handed a draw that would frighten any of the world’s top teams.  A dangerous side, Chile can’t be written off completely, and might pull off one of the early shocks of the tournament by progressing.

Chile’s Footballing History

Chile were one of the 13 teams that participated in the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, coming second in their group to eventual runners-up Argentina.

Their finest hour in football surely came as they hosted the 1962 World Cup and managed to finish an impressive 3rd.  However their worst perhaps came in the same tournament, with a first-round match against Italy (known as the “Battle of Santiago”) being so ill-tempered that the referee came up with the concept of yellow and red cards afterwards to stop a repeat of such a game.

From there Chile’s appearances at World Cups have been infrequent and unsuccessful.  Apart from Last 16 finishes in 1998 and 2010, Chile haven’t made any real progress in the tournament.

Chile hold the unwelcome accolade of being the country with the most Copa America final appearances without ever winning the tournament, reaching the final four times without a win.

Chile’s Road to the Finals

Chile finished 3rd in CONMEBOL’s round-robin qualifying tournament to earn their spot in the World Cup.  They were the second top goal scorers behind Argentina in qualifying; proving their attacking strength, but their defence meant that they finished with a poor goal difference.

Chile have scored an average of 2.7 per goals in their last 10 matches, and the last time they won a match without scoring at least two goals was in 2011’s Copa America.

Chile’s Key Players

The star man for Chile is Barcelona Alexis Sanchez, the second top-scorer for the side behind only a certain Argentinian.  He’ll be Chile’s main goal threat, but they have plenty of midfielders more than capable of opening up defences.  Juventus’ Arturo Vidal is one of the finest players in Italian football at the moment and averages a goal every four games from midfield it’s certain that he’ll pop up with some chances at the World Cup.  Wigan’s Jean Beausejour is also a starter for the Chileans, playing on the left-wing.

Chile’s Group

The Chileans are desperately unlucky to have drawn the last World Cup’s two finalists in their group, making qualification an uphill struggle.  Things start off easy against the tournament’s lowest-ranked side Australia (13th of June, 11pm, ITV) but then it ramps up a gear as they face Spain (18th of June, 8pm, BBC) and then Holland (23rd June, 5pm, ITV) in what could be the second-place decider.  Holland may not be quite as strong as they were in 2010, but are still one of the best sides in the tournament and would be looking to beat Chile if they have any faint hopes of going one better than last time.

Prediction

Chile are going to be perhaps one of the best sides to go out in the first round, if they indeed come third.  The Chile v Holland game may be one of the highlights of the group stage, but I reckon the Dutch will sneak it and take the 2nd place.  It could all change depending on how both sides do against Spain though.  Second place in the group isn’t much of a reward in the end, though – with hosts Brazil the likely opponents for whoever is the runner-up.  I think more disappointment is on the cards for Chile this year, but I think they will produce some of the most exciting football in their brief time in the tournament.

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About Author

Steven Kellow is a Ross County fan currently exiled as a student in Aberdeen. Aside from following the Staggies and Scottish football in general, he takes an interest in the more obscure and abstract features of the beautiful game: analysing football history, competitions and the side of football off the pitch. Enjoys writing about a range of topics apart from football too. He can actually understand BBC Alba commentary also.

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