Spain will face Chile in their second group B game at the iconic Maracana Stadium. Featuring in a group with two of the finalists from 2010, Chile are dark horses to qualify for the Round of 16. The South Americans will be highly charged on their home continent, but are they able to shock the current world champions?
FIFA Ranking: 13
Previous World Cups: 1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982, 1998, 2010
Best Finish: Third Place, 1962
13/6 Australia, Cuiaba. 11pm ITV
18/6 Spain, Rio de Janeiro. 8pm BBC
23/6 Netherlands, Sao Paulo. 5pm ITV
Fans of Spanish domestic football will be familiar with how Chile play, having changed little since their foray into the Round of 16 in South Africa under Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine coach enjoyed success with Athletic Bilbao in 2012, implementing his high-octane pressing system upon the Basques to great effect. Nowadays Jorge Sampaoli barks instructions from the touchline, who openly admits to be a disciple of Bielsa, so a similar brand of football can be expected.
La Liga followers will also be familiar with Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, who alongside Arturo Vidal, are two players capable of scoring plenty of goals. Their attacking threat is typical of a South American team and will cause Group B defences many problems. However, like most teams from the continent, Chile struggle at the back. Their 3-4-3 system offers little defensive cover anyway, although Chile have personnel problems too.
A lack of quality means that former Sevilla midfielder Gary Medel has often had to fill in at centre-back, and Marcos Gonzalez is short of match practice. It will be interesting to witness this delicate balance between attack and defence and assess how far this exciting team can progress.
As mentioned before, Alexis Sanchez will be chief tormentor, having been one of few to enjoy this season at the Nou Camp, scoring 19 times in the league. Arturo Vidal will also be a menace, but his fitness will be questioned after recent surgery. The Juventus midfielder proved his quality this season, adding goals to his game in talismanic fashion. His leadership will drive Chile on even if not fully fit, and his tenacity will open up his skills to a wider audience.
At the back, Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been superb during the previous two seasons and is rightly being linked with top clubs across Europe. He’ll be the man to bail out any defensive calamities and look to put himself in the shop window ahead of a potential move.
Threat to Spain
Spain will have to be on their toes against Chile, who can attack and press at an intense tempo. They will also be familiar with the conditions in Sao Paulo, giving them the advantage as the game goes on. Both teams share many similarities – particularly with the way they attack without the ball. Vicente del Bosque may alter his tactics for this one, as he won’t want his players chasing the ball too often.
A careful approach may suit Spain more, although any opportunity they get to open Chile up must be taken. It was a tense encounter when the two met in the group stages in South Africa, so Spain must not let Chile take advantage, especially if the Netherlands have taken points from them in the opening game. This game has the potential to be a real cracker, but realistically both sides could cancel out each other’s strengths and be settled by the odd goal.
Squad (1 to be cut)
GK: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
DF: Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), Marcos Gonzalez (Union Espanola), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Mauricio Isla (Juventus).
MF: Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Felipe Gutierrez (Twente), Rodrigo Millar (Atlas), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo).
FW: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Fabian Orellana (Celta).
5/3/14 Germany 1-0 Chile
22/1/14 Chile 4-0 Costa Rica (Albornoz, Hernandez x2, Munoz)
19/11/13 Brazil 2-1 Chile (Vargas)
Odds to win tournament: 40/1
Odds to beat Spain: 100/30 (SkyBet)