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Chile scores, but defense could be a problem

Chile scores, but defense could be a problem

The last time Chile qualified for the World Cup, the team reached the knockout stage, and getting that far again at the tournament in South Africa would satisfy most Chileans.
To get there, Chile will have to finish in the top two in Group H, which also includes European champion Spain, Switzerland and Honduras.
"We're in the middle as far as the draw," said Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, a widely respected Argentine who took over the team in 2007.
If Bielsa gets Chile to the second round, it will surpass what he did as Argentina coach at the 2002 World Cup, when the Argentines failed to get out of the group stage _ mostly because of a 1-0 loss to England.
In 1998, it was Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano who led Chile. They were collectively known as "ZaSo."
This time, Chile will rely on Huberto Suazo and teammate Alexis Sanchez. Suazo, who moved in January to Zaragoza from Mexico champion Monterrey, is widely regarded as one of the best forwards in South America.
Bielsa has turned Chile into an attacking team, a change from its traditional reliance on technique and a slow build-up. The team scored 32 goals in South American qualifying, and only Brazil scored more with 33.
Chile showed its attacking character in a qualifying match in September against Brazil. The five-time champions went ahead 2-0, but Chile rallied on two goals by Suazo to draw even before Brazil won 4-2. Chile wound up second in the qualifying group behind Brazil, but ahead of Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.
Chile is strong from the midfield through the forwards, with defense posing the biggest question. Bielsa has tried various combinations on the backline with limited success.
The playmaker is Matias Fernandez, with two other midfielders playing key roles _ Mauricio Isla and Carlos Carmona. Up front there are probably four main players _ Suazo, Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia and Jean Beausejour. Forward Marco Estrada is another player to watch.
The undisputed starter in goal is Claudio Bravo.


Updated : 2021-01-26 13:40 GMT+08:00