The FIFA World Cup Team Runthrough Thread #2 For 6/11/14: #11 Chile
Photo from Getty Images Europe
Medel- Silva - Jara
Key Bench Options: Orellana, Carmona Albornoz, Mena, Pinilla, Jose Rojas, Felipe Gutierrez
Besides Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal's daily prognosis is the biggest star injury watch going for a Chilean side that could ill afford to lose him. Without the great box-to-box Juventus midfielder at his physical best, La Roja will simply not progress from Group B over elite European rivals Spain and Netherlands.
Vidal and Alexis Sanchez are the only true match winners in Jorge Sampaoli's squad, with the rest of the 23 going where their star duo takes them. Sampaoli, however, does have an array of solid supporting cast members up front for Vidal and Sanchez that have led most to think Chile could finished sandwiched in between the South Africa finalists.
Fabian Orellana is coming off his best club season with sterling performances for an overachieving Celta Vigo side. 24-year-old Eduardo Vargas may have found himself a home in Europe with good displays for Valencia after struggling at Napoli. The well traveled Mauricio Pinilla is established at Cagliari with good goal scoring and link up forward play to be a regular with the Serie A side. Esteban Paredes meanwhile was the dominate player in the Chilean Clasura, returning to his former side Colo-Colo with a terrific 16 goals tally in 14 appearances.
The player with the most talent on Chile besides Vidal and Sanchez is attacking midfield Jorge Valdivia can still unlock any defense and will look to be the key outlet man for the wide men cutting inside. Although most of Europe haven't been expose to the great talents of Valdivia with only a quick loan stint with Rayo Vallecano as the only team on the continent he's played for, the 30-year-old is a Copa Libertadores and Brasileirao star for a while now has overcome a crazy off the field life including being kidnapped along with her in 2012 in Brazil. Despite that insane and scary ordeal, Valdivia has remained with Palmeiras and continued to be a top performer in all of CONMEBOL club play.
The formation with Sampaoli will chose, regardless of whether Vidal will be a major force or not, is yet to be determine. He could go with their cherished frenetic 3-4-3 formation made famous under former manager Marcelo Bielsa or play a diamond 4-4-2. Either way, Sampaoli will be hell bent on keeping that same aggressive, relentless ball energy pursuit with the pitbull Gary Medel in the middle. The 26-year-old Medel is just as valuable as Valdivia with only Vidal and Sanchez requiring more importance. The 26-year-old is the man who gives Chile the defensive steel that their offensive approach requires and will not be bothered that much with Cardiff being related from the Premier League.
Medel will need assistance to craft a strong defensive center with 27-year-old solid performances Marcelo Diaz and Carlos Carmona. Diaz was a valuable contributor of another impressive European run by Basel this season, while Carmona is capable of producing a good long range shot and the occasional box crash. The Atalanta regular must be careful though of being too emotional in the midfield, as he is capable of picking up a lot of yellows. To make it a packed five men in the center of defense for Sampaoli, Nottingham Forest defender Gonzalo Jara and converted Swede Miiko Albornoz looked favored to join Medel in the backline.
Albornoz had a rough second cap, being primarily responsible for the two goals Egypt scored before Chile came back in that warm up friendly a few weeks ago 3-2. 28-year Francisco Silva, who was apart of a torrid season for Osasuna in their relegation from La Liga, may have to be the third man in the middle in expense of the young 22-year-old Albornoz. There is a possibility that backup leftback Eugenio Mena could also see himself on the first eleven list in that central defensive three.
The high line that Chile have loved to employ the last two World Cup cycles will be severely tested no matter if they line up three central defenders or two, meaning wide men Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour have to be at their best. Isla has that ability to play at a high level, factoring in as an active performer in Juventus' Serie A dynasty the last few years but is not a constant starter. Beausejour meanwhile may have been apart of a relegated Wigan side last year, but still is quite capable of putting in a good two way swift. The 30-year-old's natural tendency to be offensive first however is a major concern for Chilean stability, especially with the over the top pace the likes of Arjen Robben and Diego Costa will bring as their main Group B rivals. Real Sociedad keeper Claudio Bravo had an okay season for the solid Basque club but is not good enough to stop one-on-one situations against those world class finishers.
Despite Sanchez being on the form of his life and ready to show himself a darkhorse contender for next year's Ballon D'Or, Chilean hopes of a deep run on continental soil will diminish rapidly if Vidal can't showcase why he is the best central midfielder in the world today. No frenetic, unyielding tempo from La Roja would prevent that form happening.
Under The Radar, Key Players:
Jara: As the third most capped member of the squad behind Bravo and Sanchez, Jara must show the disclipine positioning that has been absent a lot of times for Chile to have success this tournament, especially if Vidal is not at his physical best.