Chile’s superb qualifying run brings them to South Africa 2010 in great form after 12 years without World Cup football. After scoring 32 goals and beating the likes of Colombia and Argentina along the way, La Roja will be quietly confident of impressing the millions watching in South Africa. With a young team and expressive attacking style, much is expected of this Chilean squad.
Under Argentine Coach Marcelo Bielsa, this group of players are becoming one of the best attacking teams in international football. One of their most highly-regarded front players is Alexis Sanchez, the Udinese forward who’s skills on the ball and fast dribbling style have earned him the nickname “wonder boy” back in his home country. Sanchez is tipped to make a big impact in South Africa, where defenders are going to have to have quick feet to match Chile’s breakout star. Chile’s leading striker is Humberto Suazo (Real Zaragoza). The 28-year-old goal-poacher’s 10 goals in qualifying led the way among all the South American nations. Suazo is a deadly finisher when given the chance, and with the dribbling ability that surrounds him in this squad, he surely will get plenty of chances on goal. Chile will be hoping that Suazo recovers enough from a recent hamstring problem to take part in South Africa.
Another of Chile’s young attacking stars is Matias Fernandez. Fernandez started his career at Chile’s Colo Colo where he quickly started to draw attention across Europe for his speed on the ball and brilliant control. Now a regular for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, Fernandez is quick passer and fast dribbler and if given the opportunity will give any defender nightmares.
So we know that Chile has the attacking strength to cause the opposition plenty of problems. Let’s take a look at the defense. This is where Coach Bielsa has struggled recently. While Chile scored masses of goals in qualifying, they also conceded more than any other South American team that made the World Cup. Bielsa prefers playing with just three defenders in a narrow backline. And their squad, while fast, doesn’t have the height and strength of other defensive units at South Africa 2010. Opposition teams will look at launch the ball high from deep on the field and force their backline to defend from deep where they are at their weakest.
No matter who Chile play at this year’s tournament, they will be very good to watch. Their skills in attack and on the wings will lead to goals, and if they can avoid lapses in concentration at the back, Chile could be one of the most surprising teams at this year’s tournament. Their unpredictability as a team makes them exciting to watch on the field and a tough call off it. Expect them to finish second in their group behind Spain. After the group stages, they will need some luck to avoid the bigger teams in the competition.
Chile World Cup Prediction: Quarter-finals.
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