Like in the 62 and 98 edition of the World Cup, Chile found itself the victim of a superior Brazilian team. Chile tried to play an organized game against the quick striking Brazilians but could not keep it together for more than 40 minutes. All it took was 4 minutes of imprecision, late in the first half, for Brazil to strike twice in a game that was hotly contested. The Chileans never recovered and despite moving forward for the full 90 minutes Chile never got a goal. The final score 3-0 is a testament to the effectiveness of a Brazil team that does not need to implement its rhythm on a game to score plenty of goal.
Chilean coach, Marcelo Bielsa, who by now is all but a revered god in Chile for qualifying for South Africa made a huge mistake by not including neither Matias Fernandez or Jorge Valdivia in the starting 11. Because of this absence, the “offensive” minded team found itself without a midfield player connecting the back team with the forward; Suazo, Beausejour and Gonzalez. This resulted in an offense incapable to getting into the rival’s penalty area when they recuperated the ball, which meant Suazo was forced out of the box to try to find the ball. By the time Bielsa corrected his mistake in the second half, the game was 0-2 and Valdivia tried in vain to lead a comeback.
This is a sad yet forseeable end to Chile’s play in South Africa. Sad because Chile seemed to be a team capable of much more given the play showed in the opening round. Perhaps a lesser rival than the king of soccer (Brazil) might have given Chile a real chance of playing in the final 8 or 4, but against a stronger Brazil team there was very little hope from the start. As I wrote in my opening column, Chile repeated its performance of 1998 by bowing out to Brazil in the round of 16. Chile has no one to blame but themselves. Had they capitalized on the many occasions generated against Honduras and Switzerland they could have faced a much more beatable Portugal team and their fate might have been different. Moreover, a more disciplined game against Spain could also have secured top spot in the group and avoided their continental cousins. The final outcome is disappointing for a team billed as ”highly offensive” with rising stars, such as Alexis Sanchez and an established goal scorer like Humberto Suazo, to not have any of its offensive play-makers score in the World Cup. I expected Sanchez to have a breakout performance, but he played an average tournament, showing flashes of brilliance but never coming close to scoring. Suazo barely played, whether that was due to injury or a decision by Bielsa is unclear. Fernandez was inexplicably left to rot on the bench in the last game and Valdivia only played his natural position(he played in other games as a forward, a position he never plays) for a gran total of 45 minutes in the entire tournament. Marcelo Bielsa has some explaining to do before bolting to Mexico, where a rumored 10 million dollar contract awaits him.
Not all is lost however. Chile played with one of the youngest teams in South Africa. The base of the team is on average 24 years old and most of the 23 man roster will be returning for the next World Cup. If Chile can find 2-3 players to solidify and add depth to its defense it will make the Brazil World Cup in 2014. Hopefully this time they won’t face eachother. It would be nice to watch a World Cup where Chile is not eliminated by Brazil in the rd of 16. The experience of South Africa is a good one. 2 games were won for the first time since 1962 and the players got their “feet wet” at the biggest stage posible. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and Chile can exit Sout Africa with its head held high and eyes set on a bright future.
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Written by The Gator Great