Confederations Cup team preview: Chile

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Santa Clara, CA — Argentina vs. Chile; COPA America

Chile

Group B

How did they get here: By winning two Copa America titles.

Schedule:Cameroon (June 18, Moscow), Germany (June 22, Kazan), and Australia (June 25, Moscow).

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi

Players to keep an eye on: Eduardo Vargas, Edson Puch, and Jose Fuenzalida

Outlook:

Chile enters the Confederations cup in Russia after coming out victorious in the Copa America. The feisty team from South America is usually not a favorite to win any given tournament, but is always in the running. Just like in the Copa America, and Copa America Centennario, Chile might not look the most attractive team, but it would be wise not to write them off yet.

In Group B, among Germany, Cameroon, and Australia, Chile looks likely to come out of the group in the top two spots, securing a knockout round bid. Germany, perhaps the favorites despite losing some seasoned veterans, look to continue success as reigning World Cup winners, and are the greatest threat to the Chileans in this group. But, like in any three game group playoff, so much of these guys will come down to chance. It only takes a win and draw to advance, usually, and if Chile drops a game against Australia or Cameroon, they will have to come out firing on all cylinders against Germany. While all eyes will be on Chile and Germany, Cameroon is a team not to be taken lightly, coming in as champions of Africa. Should Chile go on a run to the finals, they could be raising an international trophy for the 3rd consecutive summer.

The Chile side under Juan Antonio Pizzi looked sluggish in the beginning of last summers Copa America Centennario, but finished incredibly strong, winning in penalties against rivals Argentina. The side looks the same as last seasons, and with that will have a certain amount of consistency moving forward. Star players like Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel are well complemented by international standouts such as Eduardo Vargas, Charles Aranguiz and Gonzalo Jara. Through the middle, these 6 players have developed terrific chemistry. Individually they are talented, but together they are scary. On the wings, Jean Beausejour brings experience and consistency, with Mauricio Isla mirroring him on the right side.

Chile will likely line up in Pizzi’s preferred 4-3-3, with Beausejour, Jara, Medel and Isla protecting Johnny Herrera (Claudio Bravo will miss the tournament with an injury) in net. In the midfield, Vidal and Aranguiz will get a license to roam free, as Marcelo Diaz sits in front of the back four, spraying balls wide and allowing those midfielders to run and support the forward players. Up top, Sanchez will start on the right, cutting onto his preferred right foot and getting into the box as Beausejour moves forward on the wing. Eduardo Vargas will play as a false nine of sorts, checking short to receive the ball while Sanchez moves into the space Vargas opened up. Vargas also has the potential to run the channels, pulling center-backs wide as Sanchez once again gets himself in front of goal. The right wing might be the only question mark for Pizzi, as he has several options to employ. He likes using the wily Edson Puch to hang on the touch-line, stretching defenses, but he also has La Liga veteran Pablo Hernandez and Jose Fuenzalida, depending if he wants to push for a goal or emphasize defense, respectively.

 

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