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Chile will play a beautiful game against ‘furious’ world champions in Rio

Chile will play a beautiful game against ‘furious’ world champions in Rio

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on June 18, 2014

Few football stadiums have born witness to such drama as Estádio do Maracanã, but Chile is looking to add another chapter to its history books Wednesday afternoon by eliminating the reigning world champions from Brazil 2014 before its iconic oval-shaped stands.

Spain, the most decorated side of the modern-era, is licking its wounds after a 5-1 humbling at the hands of the Netherlands and needs a win to keep its qualification hopes in its own hands.

But far from being daunted, the Chilean side have, to a man, declared that victory is their sole objective. For midfield talisman Arturo Vidal, Spain’s desperation and Chile’s determination to win are a recipe for only one certain outcome.

“It is going to be a beautiful game, because Spain needs to win to avoid crashing out and we want the three points”, the Juventus star told press.

Fighting fury with fire

Under coach Jorge Sampaoli, Chile has earned a reputation of playing high-paced, attacking football. “La Roja” doesn’t look to prevent an opponent from scoring by rock solid defense, it looks to outplay them, keep them trapped in their own half and starved of the ball or, failing that, to simply outscore them.

For Vidal, this ruthless attitude will provide the Chileans with an edge over their more talented opponent — or make them glorious martyrs to the beautiful game.

“Spain has more quality, is more technical and if you are going to compare this team to the one they took to South Africa, this team is stronger than that which became world champion. They have the quality to be champions of the world again, they are going to be furious after what happened against the Netherlands, but we are going to attack them anyway,” Vidal said. “Chile is going to attack, we are suicidal and we want to have the ball.”

Vidal himself will be crucial to his side’s hopes of outgunning Spain. One of the most complete box-to-box midfielders in the world, “King Arthur,” who is recovery from a knee operation last month, was far from his domineering best in Chile’s opening World Cup match against Australia.

Vidal, Valdivía - Chile's struggling stars

The subpar performance of Vidal and another key member of the team returning from injury — the sublime and precocious playmaker Jorge Valdívia — have raised concerns in the Chile camp. The two were identified as key factors in Chile’s utter dominance of the first fifteen minutes as well as its inability to control the midfield for large parts of the game from that point on.

Both players have the ability to dictate and delight, but both were lacking the fitness for a sustained input and, though Valdívia scored on 14 minutes, both were substituted in the second half.

Vidal has declared he is now 100 percent ready to go, but as Sampaoli looks to iron out the kinks of the Australia match with tactical readjustments, both players may not feature in Chile’s starting lineup. The most probable scenario, however, is that Valdívia will start on the bench and Vidal slot into his false nine position, behind Chile’s two strikers.

Spanish-based strikers look to expose club teammates

Of the two Spain-based attackers, and of the whole team, all eyes are on Sánchez — and for good reason. “The Boy Wonder” has been carrying his team as it has failed to click in recent outings. He will also have a point to prove after a fine season at Barcelona in which he was underplayed and undervalued by the Spanish giants.

The focus on Sánchez may play into the hands of Valencia’s Eduardo Vargas. “Edu” was quiet against Australia but is a proven goal shark and bagged a brace against Spain last time the two teams met. His nippy runs may prove a handful for defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, who were exposed against the pace of the Dutch, and his penchant from taking on and beating charging goalkeepers could be decisive against Iker Casillas, who is out of form and low on confidence.

Francisco Silva to bring back Sampaoli's signature style

Casillas will not be the only player on the pitch searching to get his mojo back. Chile has failed to execute Sampaoli’s suffocating style over recent matches as key players to his plan have not delivered.

The Chile coach is expected to switch to a three man backline, bringing in Osasuna’s Francisco Silva to join Gary Medel and Gonzalo Jara in an effort to replicate the kind of disruptive game which unsettled Germany in March.

Silva, a defensive midfielder for his Spanish club, may slip into that role for moments during the game allowing key midfielder Marcelo Díaz to play with the kind of authority which has been sorely missed of late.

Conditions, referee and kick off

The game will be played in the legendary Maracanã, built for the 1950 World Cup and the site of the infamous “Maracanazo” debacle, in which the hosts lost their final and decisive game against Uruguay in front of more than 200,000 spectators.

Since then it has had several face lifts and played host to dozens of historic moments, most recently Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Spain in the 2013 Confederations Cup. It was also the sight of Chile’s own “Maracanazo” moment, in which keeper Roberto Rojas cut his own forehead with a razor to simulate an injury from a flare thrown from the crowds and succeeded in effectively banning Chile from two world cups. It will host the World Cup final on July 13.

Conditions are expected to be humid, partly cloudy and upwards of 80°F. The muggier condition in Rio de Janeiro will be more of a change for the Curitiba-based Spanish squad than for the Chileans, who are using Belo Horizonte as a base camp.

U.S. referee Mark Geiger will officiate the game, after overseeing Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Greece. Geiger will blow the opening whistle at 3 p.m. Chilean time.

Likely Chile lineup

Forwards: Eduardo Vargas, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sánchez

Midfielders: Eugenio Mena, Marcelo Díaz, Charles Aránguiz, Mauricio Isla

Defenders: Francisco Silva, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara

Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo (c)

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