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Chile plans to spoil Brazil’s party

Chile plans to spoil Brazil’s party

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on June 27, 2014

Twenty-three men who would lay claim to the title of the greatest Chilean football team ever assembled will face their defining moment this Saturday in Belo Horizonte when “La Roja” plays the hosts of the 2014 World Cup in the Round of 16.

A win would see Chile progress deeper into the tournament than it has ever been since it played host in 1962 and fell to Brazil in the semi-finals. Since then, it has qualified for five world cups and progressed through the group stages twice, in France 1998 and South Africa 2010. On both occasions the “Samba Kings” were there to remind their continental neighbors who ruled South American football.

For this squad the Chile-Brazil record is not mere trivia. The majority of players were part of Marcelo Bielsa’s young side which excited at the world cup four years ago but were so easily dispatched by “A Seleção” 3-0 in the first game of the knockout stages.

They have played two friendly matches since but been unable to exact revenge, drawing 2-2 in April 2013 for the inauguration of the Mineirão stadium which will host them this Saturday and going down 2-1 in Toronto last December.

Now, with players like Alexis Sánchez (25), Gary Medel (26) and Arturo Vidal (27) at the peak of their careers and with the stage set for redemption, this generation is determined to prove they have matured and possesses the mettle to win crucial games against heavyweight opponents.

“We came to this World Cup to make history,” Vidal said on Monday. “Beating Brazil? That’s our dream. Chile can create an upset. We’ve beaten the world champions, so we can beat Brazil".

Return of Vidal and Valdivia to add firepower

The Juventus midfielder will be crucial to realizing that dream. Since undergoing knee surgery in May, “King Arthur” has been an inspirational leader off the pitch, but is yet to fully wield his influence on it. He made his return to the starting lineup for the 3-1 victory over Australia but was subbed in second half that game, as well as in the 2-0 win against Spain.

Vidal was rested in the 2-0 loss to the Netherlands on Monday and his physical presence was sorely missed against the “Oranje,” which used its size advantage to outmuscle Chile’s pacey attacking duo of Alexis Sánchez and Eduardo Vargas.

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