Team Profile: Chile
- Coach: Marcelo Bielsa
- Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad/Spain), Miguel Pinto (Universidad de Chile), Luis Marin (Union Espanola)
- Defenders: Pablo Contreras (PAOK/Greece), Ismael Fuentes (Universidad Catolica), Mauricio Isla (Udinese/Italy), Gary Medel (Boca Juniors/Argentina), Gonzalo Jara (West Bromwich/England), Waldo Ponce (Universidad Catolica), Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany)
- Midfielders: Carlos Carmona (Reggina/Italy), Marco Estrada (Universidad de Chile), Matias Fernandez (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), Gonzalo Fierro (Flamengo/Brazil), Rodrigo Millar (Colo Colo), Rodrigo Tello (Besiktas/Turkey), Jorge Valdivia (Al-Ain/United Arab Emirates)
- Strikers: Jean Beausejour (America/Mexico), Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow/Russia), Fabian Orellana (Xerez/Spain), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Alexis Sanchez (Udinese/Italy), Humberto Suazo (Real Zaragoza/Spain)
Style of play: Coach Marcelo Bielsa preaches attacking soccer, with his philosophy being that it's all right if his team gives up two goals in a game, as long as they also score three. A tactical wizard, Bielsa will change up his formation from time to time, but usually goes with a Dutch-inspired 3-3-1-3 setup. Chile plays a possession game and focuses on dictating the pace of the match through ball retention. The three-man back-line is supported by a trio of midfielders - Rodrigo Millar, Carlos Carmona and Gary Medel - lined up across the width of the field, acting as the first line of defence. The three-pronged attac k of forwards Humberto Suazo, Alexis Sanchez and Jean Beausejour are supported by chief playmaker Matias Fernandez, who operates just behind them, linking the team's two-layered defence with the attack.
- June 16 vs. Honduras in Nelspruit
- June 21 vs. Switzerland in Port Elizabeth
- June 25 vs. Spain in Pretoria
Projected starting lineup (4-3-3): (GK) Claudio Bravo - (D) Waldo Ponce, Arturo Vidal, Gonzalo Jara - (M) Rodrigo Millar, Carlos Carmona, Matias Fernandez, Gary Medel - (F) Humberto Suazo, Alexis Sanchez, Jean Beausejour
- Coaching - Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa is an astute tactician, known for inspiring his teams and for his preparation. The Chilean players have bought into his attacking philosophy and the result was the country's first World Cup qualification since 1998.
- Tactical flexibility - Bielsa has used a variety of formations during his tenure as Chile's coach, proving that he isn't married to once system and is tactically flexible. The players have responded in kind with consistent performances, regardless of the system used.
- Confidence - Chronic under-achievers before Bielsa's arrival in 2007, Chile has been transformed into a brand new team, brimming with confidence after an impressive second-place finish in the South American qualifiers.
- Defence - Chile's attack-first approach leads to some entertaining soccer, but it also leaves them exposed at the back, making it easier for teams to open them up. Twenty-two goals conceded in 18 qualifying games shows that the Chileans don't put a premium on being defensively sound.
- Rustiness - While most countries play a slew of exhibition games to prepare for the World Cup, Chile has had some bad luck - a friendly against Germany last November was cancelled, as were two games in March because of an earthquake that devastated the country.
- History - Chile's record of achievement at the World Cup is pretty grim, having only made it out of the first round twice in seven appearances, and hasn't qualified for the tournament since 1998.
Players to watch:
- Gary Medel - The Boca Juniors star is a ferocious defensive midfielder who can also play at full back. Gives Chile a bit of steel and physical presence in midfield.
- Alexis Sanchez - Sanchez is certainly not a tall forward and, at five-foot-seven, El Nino Maravilla might not looking imposing to a bigger defender, but there is a hidden power that rises to the surface when he is in full-flight.
- Huberto Suazo - Simply put, Suazo is a goal machine. He finished as the top scorer in the South American qualifiers with 10 goals. The Chilean striker knows how to put the ball in the back of the net.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Starting goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is believed to be still recovering from a knee injury suffered in April. Five midfielders were cut from the preliminary roster: Manuel Iturra, Pedro Morales, Jaime Valdes, Charles Aranguiz and Jose Pedro Fuenzalida. Goalkeeper Christopher Toselli was overlooked by coach Marcelo Bielsa. Other players who did not make the cut include midfielder Claudio Maldonado, and defenders Hans Martinez, Roberto Cereceda and Osvaldo Gonzalez. Striker Humberto Suazo seems certain to miss Chile's first match at the World Cup after suffering a hamstring injury.
Prognosis: Second round or quarter-finals. With first place virtually assured to Spain, Chile is a good bet to finish second in Group H. The Chilean national team has been revitalized under Bielsa and with a healthy roster of top stars, the South Americans are a lot of people's dark-horse pick at this year's World Cup. Winning it all is well beyond the reach of Chile, but a spot in the second round, or maybe even in the quarter-finals, is within their grasp.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #15
- Qualification route: Chile finished in second place (33 points) in the South American qualifiers behind Brazil (34 points).
- Key to qualification: Fearlessness. Chile suffered some serious setbacks earlier in the South American qualifiers, including comprehensive losses to Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. But the Chileans quickly put those disappointing results behind them and efficiently grinded out results en route to qualification.
- Crucial result: A 4-2 win over Colombia (Oct. 10, 2009 in Medellin) clinched a World Cup spot for Chile.
- Qualifying record: 18 games played, 10 wins, 3 draws, 5 losses
- Goals for: 32
- Goals against: 22
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Humberto Suazo (10)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- Oct. 13, 2007 - Argentina 2, Chile 0
- Oct. 17, 2007 - Chile 2, Peru 0
- Nov. 18, 2007 - Uruguay 2, Chile 2
- Nov. 21, 2007 - Chile 0, Paraguay 3
- June 15, 2008 - Bolivia 0, Chile 2
- June 19, 2008 - Venezuela 2, Chile 3
- Sept. 7, 2008 - Chile 0, Brazil 3
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Chile 4, Colombia 0
- Oct. 12, 2008 - Ecuador 1, Chile 0
- Oct. 15, 2008 - Chile 1, Argentina 0
- March 29, 2009 - Peru 1, Chile 3
- April 1, 2009 - Chile 0, Uruguay 0
- June 6, 2009 - Paraguay 0, Chile 2
- June 10, 2009 - Chile 4, Bolivia 0
- Sept. 5, 2009 - Chile 2, Venezuela 2
- Sept. 9, 2009 - Brazil 4, Chile 2
- Oct. 10, 2009 - Colombia 2, Chile 4
- Oct. 14, 2009 - Chile 1, Ecuador 0
- Number of Previous World Cup Appearances: 7
- All-time record: 25 games played, 7 wins, 6 draws, 12 losses
- Goals for: 31
- Goals against: 40
- Biggest victory: 5-2 vs. United States in 1950
- Biggest defeat: 4-1 vs. West Germany in 1982 and 4-1 vs. Brazil in 1998
- Overall top scorer: Guillermo Subiabre, Leonel Sanchez and Marcelo Salas (4 goals)
- Most appearances: Leonel Sanchez and Elias Figueroa (9 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: 1962
World Cup track record
- 1930 - First Round
- 1934 - Did not enter
- 1938 - Did not enter
- 1950 - First Round
- 1954 - Did not qualify
- 1958 - Did not qualify
- 1962 - Semifinals (3rd place)
- 1966 - First Round
- 1970 - Did not qualify
- 1974 - First Round
- 1978 - Did not qualify
- 1982 - First Round
- 1986 - Did not qualify
- 1990 - Did not qualify
- 1994 - Did not enter
- 1998 - Second Round
- 2002 - Did not qualify
- 2006 - Did not qualify
- FIFA member since: 1913
- Team nickname: La Roja
- All-time caps leader: Leonel Sanchez (84)
- All-time leading scorer: Marcelo Salas (37 goals)
- Olympic Bronze Medal: 2000
- Marcelo Salas: Nicknamed El Matador, Salas is one of Chile's most famous and talented players, having achieved fame at some of the biggest clubs in the world. The former River Plate and Lazio forward ranks as the country's all-time leading scorer with 37 goals in over 70 appearances.
- Leonel Sanchez: A mainstay with the national team, the left midfielder made a record 84 appearances for his country from 1955 to 1968, and played a key role in helping Chile reach the semifinals of the 1962 World Cup staged on home soil.