Friday evening at 6pm ET and Saturday morning at 8am (AEST), the Socceroos face off against South American speedsters Chile in what will be both teams’ opening group match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The match will be played at the Arena Panatanal in Cuiaba with Chile having several injury concerns, but Australia at almost full strength, in the lead up to this exciting clash.
Australia recently played friendlies against Croatia (lost 0-1) and South Africa (draw 1-1) respectively in which they showed promising signs in attack for a team who are “regenerating”. In the absence of the ’06 ‘Golden Generation’, Australia are finally allowing young players a chance to flourish and develop through these friendly games and during this World Cup, but may take another few years before the full impact of their talent can be experienced at a tournament of this magnitude.
This very quick Chile side recently had a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in their farewell clash, with Pinilla and Vargas getting on the scoresheet. It was only a month ago that this side pushed the German National Team in their 1-0 loss, although it is argued that Chile were the better attacking side.
Australia experimented with Tommy Oar (usually a left winger) playing the no.10 role – attacking midfielder behind Tim Cahill last weekend vs Croatia, but expect him to start on the left, accommodating the return of Mark Bresciano from injury.
Arturo Vidal, part of the Juventus team winning the 2013-2014 Italian Serie A, is in serious doubt for this match due to his recent injury struggles. Expect him to come on in the second half as a substitution. Although Alexis Sanchez isn’t concerned about his sides chances… “We can win this World Cup”.
Australia will look to use the width of the pitch with quick wingers Mathew Leckie and Tommy Oar, to feed balls into Cahill but also cut inside and allow Bresciano to have shots at goal. They rely on a solid defensive base and play out from the back with Goalkeeper Mat Ryan renowned for being very slick with his feet. They will look to exploit Chile’s weaknesses – in particular Chile’s vulnerability when leaving centre-backs exposed by pressing high up.
Chile’s tactics are well noted. They deploy a 4-3-3 formation when defending, which switches to a 3-4-3 when attacking. When in possession, their defensive midfielder drops in to support the two CB’s and their wingbacks push forward to assist the attack. Look for Isla to rush with the ball down the right hand side and put balls in for Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas. Chile are extremely skilled at aggressively pressing the opponent into turning the ball over, and expect the same in this match.
Chile will press and attack aggressively for the entirety of the match. This will leave the Socceroos with opportunities to rush forward and get in behind the Chile defensive line. This will be an exciting match and could go either way.