Heading into 2010 World Cup qualification, both Honduras and Chile were both underdogs to even make it to South Africa, yet on June 16th the South American rivals will open Group F action in the city of Nelspruit.
Although both nations are from South America, Honduras had a much easier path to the World Cup as they qualified through the North American and Caribbean ranks. Chile on the other hand was paired in an incredibly tough situation, being pitted against the likes of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, all of whom qualified for South Africa. More impressively, the Chileans finished second in that group, only one point behind Brazil clearly making their mark on the soccer world. Being placed in Group F along with Spain and Switzerland creates a wide-open competition for second place and a likely second round fixture against the Brazilians. Chile and Honduras are both more than capable in their quest for advancing but their opening match against one another could be their most important.
Honduras vs Chile Betting Odds:
Over 2.5 (+120)
Under 2.5 (-135)
Honduras is making just its second World Cup appearance, and their first since 1982. This time around the Hondurans hope to improve upon their first-round exit and certainly have the talent to do so. Coached by Reinaldo Rueda, the Colombian has guided Los Catrachos to recent success in the 2009 Gold Cup, and has instilled the squad with great discipline. They are led by Tottenham’s Wilson Palacios and former MLS MVP and Toronto FC star, Amado Guevara. The two key figures roam in the Honduran midfield and distribute the ball exceptionally for their crafty forwards in Carlos Pavon, and David Suazo. Their lineup however is aging, as eight of their key performers in South Africa will be 30 or older by kickoff.
Expect the Hondurans to employ their traditional 4-4-2 formation against Chile, with the power coming from their midfield. Look for Palacios to play more of a holding role, while Guevara should be pushing forward in support of both Pavon and Suazo. They play a fast, and physical brand of soccer and if given the opportunities, will surely make Chile pay in the attacking third. Most underdogs at the World Cup preach defense and play an ultra conservative style, yet for Honduras to be successful they have to focus on the game that punched their ticket, offense. This team scored three goals in qualifying against a strong Mexican side, and will look to duplicate their efforts against Chile.
Chile enter World Cup action as a popular dark-horse selection for many soccer experts. Coming off an impressive qualifying campaign in the tough South American competition, Chile is being pegged to advance past the first round and give Brazil a tough match in the second round. If only it were that easy. Chile’s preparations were hampered severely by an earthquake, and are only recently recovering. However no form of natural disaster can impede the lethal skills of the Chilean attack. Spearheaded by their leading scorer Humberto Suazo who netted 10 goals I qualifying, and the 21-year-old prodigy Alexis Sanchez, the Chileans will have no issue capitalizing on their chances. Sanchez is one to observe in South Africa, and should be a breakthrough player by the time the tournament comes to a close.
The Chileans will play perhaps the most exciting style of soccer in South Africa. Argentine coach Marco Bielsa is known as the ‘Crazy One’ but knows how to win. He will play his side to their main strength, attacking football. La Roja will surprise fans across the world with such an aggressive game and should utilize a unique 3-3-1-3 formation. Look for them to work the flanks incredibly well against a suspect Honduran defense and produce a fair share of goals throughout the tournament. This is a Chile side that amounted 32 goals in qualifying, just one less than Brazil, and a whopping nine more than World Cup favorites Argentina. However you are only as strong as your weakest link, and one downfall of the Chileans could be their defenders. They’re largely inexperienced and lack the same pedigree as their offense. We will find out early on versus Honduras just how far Chile can advance, based on the look of their questionable defenders.
This match could very well be the most explosive of the opening round. Chile and Honduras both possess a wealth of offensive skills, and are seemingly unaware that defense must be played as well. Look for lots of chances, some goals, and Chile to come out on top. Expect the duo of Humberto Suazo and Alexis Sanchez to both get on the board as the Honduran defense has yet to see a quality attack like Chile’s, and will appear lost in their attempts to stop it.
Honduras vs Chile Prediction: Chile 3 – Honduras 1
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