Chile Team Fact Box

2010-05-10 15:51
Previous appearances in finals: 7

Nickname:    
La Roja (The red one)
El Equipo de Todos (Everybody's team)

Best performance: Third place in 1962

Coach: Marcelo Bielsa. One of the world's most intriguing coaches, the introverted and eccentric Bielsa is credited with taking a group of low-profile players to the World Cup. Despite shunning the limelight, the meticulous, studious Argentine has become a national hero in Chile where he was initially greeted with scepticism because of his high salary. Bielsa was previously coach of his own country's national team for six years, which included their disastrous campaign at the 2002 World Cup and a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics.

Captain: Claudio Bravo

Key players:

Humberto Suazo
Age: 28
Position: Forward
Club: Monterrey
FIFA World Cup Qualifier appearances (2006, 2010): 19
Goals: 10

Shaven-headed striker with a prolific scoring rate including 10 in Chile's World Cup qualifying campaign, making him the leading scorer in the South American group. His club career has been restricted to Chile and Mexico.

Arturo Vidal
Age: 22
Position: Midfielder
Club: Bayern Leverkusen
FIFA World Cup Qualifier appearances (2010): 11
Goals: 1

Versatile player who can hold his own in defence or midfield, Vidal is one of the country's most promising footballers. He was the team's leading scorer at the South American under-20 championship in 2007 and helped Chile to reach the semi-finals of the World Youth championship later the same year.

Matias Fernandez
Age: 23
Position: Midfielder
Club: Sporting Lisbon
FIFA World Cup Qualifier appearances (2006, 2010): 20
Goals: 4

An outstandingly gifted player who pulls the strings in midfield. Born in Argentina, his family moved to Chile when he was four. He was raised at Colo Colo where he scored some astonishing goals during his three seasons in the professional side. He moved to Spain's Villarreal in 2007 but struggled to get into the team and is now at Sporting Lisbon.

FIFA world ranking May 2010: 16

How they qualified: Chile finished second in the 10-team South American group, one point behind Brazil. The highlight of their 18-match campaign was a 1-0 win over Argentina, their first ever against their neighbours in a competitive game. Two of their four defeats came against Brazil while they managed home and away wins over Colombia and old rivals Peru.

Prospects: With players based in the Spanish and English second tiers, Greece, Turkey, Mexico and at home, Chile's squad does not immediately instigate much fear. But Bielsa has hand-picked naturally-gifted players who can carry out his physically demanding attacking style and moulded them into arguably South America's most attractive team. After a recent 2-1 win in Slovakia, the rival coach compared their style to Barcelona's and described their performance as magnificent.


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