World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Chile set to star in Brazil
Past tournaments: 1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982, 1998, 2010
Previous Best: Third Place, Chile 1962.
How they got here: Jorge Sampaoli’s side will make the short trip across South America to Brazil after finishing third in the CONMEBOL section of qualifying. Despite six defeats throughout the long qualification campaign, the Chileans produced nine wins, including a 2-0 victory over Uruguay, which was enough to see them finish just behind Argentina and Colombia.
Star man: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona)
The former Udinese forward has been somewhat of a disappointment since arriving at the Nou Camp in 2011 but this season has seen his form improve for his club. He has also been in excellent form for his country and was the star of the show as Chile beat England 2-0 at Wembley in November. The 25-year-old scored twice that night to take his tally to 22 goals in 64 appearances for Sampaoli’s side. At 66/1 with Ladbrokes, the Barca winger could be a decent each-way shout for top tournament goalscorer should Chile get out of their group.
Under the radar: Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Juventus star Vidal is one of the most complete midfield players in the world and while people who watch Serie A will know about his pedigree, those who don’t will enjoy watching the 26-year-old perform on the world stage, should he recover from a knee injury. Chile face an anxious wait to see if Vidal, who is a reported target for Manchester United, will recover from a knee injury in time to take his place in the squad but he will be given all the time he needs as he is the heartbeat of this Chilean side. His all-action style will be vital to how his side perform in Brazil and after adding an extra dimension to his game with his improved goal scoring record for Juve – he has scored 18 goals this season – he will be looking to find the net more regularly for Chile.
Team nutcase: Gary Medel (Cardiff City)
For a man nicknamed the ‘Pitbull of Seville’ for his fiery performances on and of the pitch in Spain, Gary Medel has been quite a calm presence in his first season of English football considering the reputation he came to Cardiff with. An unpunished slap on Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini was about as bad as it got for the Chilean in the Premier League but bubbling under the surface is a temper that has helped earn the 26-year-old a staggering seven red cards in just two seasons at Sevilla. A headbutt on Cesc Fabregas stands is on his CV of misdemeanours but top of the pile is his reaction to being given his marching orders for a foul on Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa. All we can say is what did the chair ever do to you, Gary?
How will they get on?
Chile face a tough task trying to qualify from a group featuring reigning champions Spain and the Netherlands but write Sampaoli’s charges off at your peril. This Chilean side is a delight to watch and as England found out last November they are a danger to any side in the world. A win over Australia in their first match of the tournament is vital if they are to have any hope of qualifying from Group B and with conditions in Brazil in their favour it would be no surprise to see them shock one of the European nations in the group and qualify for the knockout stages.
To win the World Cup: 33/1
Best World Cup Bet: Chile to reach at least the second round – 11/10
Chile announced themselves as dark horses for the World Cup with an impressive 2-0 win over England at Wembley:
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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