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Copa América 2015: Why Chile Could Win it All

Copa América 2015: Why Chile Could Win it All

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 19, 2015

The Copa America is fast approaching with less than a month to go before the big event kicks off. Twelve teams will compete for CONMEBOL glory, but only one team will walk away.

Chile is clearly one of the favorites to lift the trophy come July 4. It is the host nation, is filled with a number of top end stars and will traverse a relatively "easy" group to get to the finish line.

The team has never won the tournament but has been the runner-up on four different occasions. The team's first second place finish came in 1955 when it finished second in the final group round behind Argentina. A year later the country finished second in the group behind Uruguay.

In 1979, Chile would face Paraguay in three different matches, losing 3-0 in the opening leg before winning 1-0 in the follow-up. The deciding game was a 0-0 draw, giving Paraguay the win on aggregate tallies.

Chile's most recent second place finish came in 1987 when it lost in the final against Uruguay by the score of 1-0.

Aside from those second place finishes Chile has had five third place finishes in 1926, 1941, 1945, 1967 and 1991.

Since finishing third in 1991, the nation has faltered in the group stage and quarterfinals only reaching the third place match in 1999; that is a span of eight tournaments.

Key Player(s)

Alexis Sanchez would obviously get the vote here but this team also has Claudio Bravo, Eduardo Vargas, Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla and of course Arturo Vidal.

At last year's World Cup, the team did not play with a true striker, instead opting for having Sanchez as the line-leader and then finding space for other players to surprise the defense. It was a rather chaotic tactic, but tremendously effective in the opening round against Spain and Australia.

Sanchez has 26 goals in 79 appearances for the national side, making him fourth all-time on Chile's scoring table. He could eventually become the main man if he continues his terrific scoring pace and grows in his current prime years. He is coming off a 24-goal year for Arsenal, a career-high for Sanchez, which indicates that he is in peak form and ready to dominate.

While Sanchez can score, there is no doubt that the man pulling the strings is Vidal. And unlike last summer when he was injured during the World Cup, Vidal is currently in dominant form. He can frustrate opposing defenses and knows how to pick out teammates with terrific precision.

Why Chile will win

Being the host carries its weight. In 43 tournaments, three of which had no host nation, the host country won 19 times. Factoring in the three tournaments held without hosts, that would mean that hosts won 47.5 percent of the time in this tournament. That is a terrific number. Chile of course has hosted six times (this will be the seventh go round) and has not won it once. Luck is due for the nation.

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