Three things England can expect from Chile friendly

England have lined up November friendlies with Chile and Germany after qualifying for the World Cup finals earlier this week.


Anyone who watched the Wembley Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this past May knows plenty about what sort of test Germany will pose.

Less is known about other opponents Chile.

At the 1950 World Cup Stan Mortensen, the centre forward who famously went on to hit a hat-trick in the FA Cup final three years later, started England off in a 2-0 win.

Another memorable meeting came in 1998 as both teams warmed up for the World Cup in France. Marcelo Salas’s double sunk the Three Lions at Wembley.

Roy Hodgson is preparing his team for an almost once in a lifetime test then. Here are three things about Chile every Lions fan should learn:

Makeshift defence

It is far from disrespectful to suggest that defending is Chile’s strong point. In part down to the unorthodox, but effective tactics of predecessor Marcelo Bielsa, national coach Jorge Sampaoli often uses players out of position at the back.

Arturo Vidal, the box-to-box Juventus midfielder with a fiery temper, has covered at left-back before, for example. The usual tactics involve three defenders and wingbacks.

Mauricio Isla, Vidal’s Juve teammate and Jean Beausejour of Wigan Athletic are best-suited to operating on the flanks. Nottingham Forest utility man Gonzalo Jara meanwhile often fills in at centre back alongside Cardiff City summer signing Gary Medel.

The absence of natural defenders must not be mistaken for Chile missing natural aggression. What is lacking in composure is compensated for in deploying their toughest tacklers and most physical presences in their rear-guard.

Behind this rather eclectic mix is experienced keeper Claudio Bravo, captain of Chile. At 30 he has recently surpassed 75 caps and has 200 Spanish league games under his belt with Real Sociedad.

Creative Chile

Using the systems with wingbacks and a three-man defence means that Fiorentina’s David Pizarro sits and Vidal breaks forward from next to him in midfield when he chooses.

Chile’s playmaker role is usually a straight choice for Sampaoli between Matias Fernandez and Jorge Valdivia. Despite an age difference of two years this pair has been to the same number of tournaments and earned roughly the same amount of caps.

Fernandez is the more familiar of the two to an English audience and poses the greater goal threat. He has scored almost as many as Vidal, Valdivia and Pizarro put together. A man-marking job may stem his supplies to forwards.

Diminutive stature

Lastly, Chile rarely pick and start strikers possessing any great height. Barcelona attacker Alexis Sanchez is regularly partnered by Humberto Suazo up front and neither man is taller than 5 foot 7.

Don’t let the size fool you. Both have goal averages of about one in three at international level. If Chile go to a front three, Sanchez is often pushed out wide right and Beausejour moved up on the other flank to support Suazo.

Whilst they may pose no physical challenge to opposition defenders in open play, the brutes from the back come up for set pieces. More worryingly there is potential for runs in behind or into the channels, splitting defenders by moving wide or dropping off to receive the ball deep.

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One Response

  1. Jamie Clark 18 October, 2013