It’s been a whirlwind of a month for CONMEBOL, South America’s football Confederation as Chile, Bolivia and Argentina have been facing off in a judiciary proceeding where the final verdict is yet to be found. ‘Cabrera Gate’
World Cup Qualifiers: 31/8/17 – 05/09/17
The final two matches for Russia World Cup 2018 qualification are 2 weeks away and CONMEBOL Nations have released their squads and as always there is much to talk about.
Two-time, back-to-back Copa America champions Chile are soon to learn their fate of whether or not they will drop out of automatic qualification to Russia.
Coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi has picked his best 19 (overseas players) with that looming:
His picks have caused quite a stir in Chile as some inclusions have shocked passionate fans:
Now, Manchester City’s number two goalkeeper Claudio Bravo keeps his spot, defence stays relatively unchanged with Mauricio Isla, Enzo Roco, Eugenio Mena, Paulo Diaz – who had a good Confederations Cup debut tournament at the back alongside Gary Medel who just completed his move to Turkish giants Besiktas.
It’s the midfield which has the country talking as Pizzi, once again has did not call ‘El Mago’ Valdivia and also Matias Fernanzdez who is fit into these crucial matches. Felipe Gutierrez is also a shock inclusion for a few claiming he is not ready and others say his physical condition is not apt for football, weighing 64kg. Marcelo Diaz also is among the chit-chat after his faulty back pass which led to Germany’s goal in the 2017 Confederations Cup Final. Emotional torment followed and so did a transfer from Celta de Vigo to Mexico.
Valdivia, since returning to his former club Colo-Colo has scored two goals and assisted in the Chilean Super Cup against rivals Universidad Catolica, form that would but did not tempt the national team manager. Valdivia since returning to Chile has been in top physical form, form that according to Chilean newspaper ‘El Mercurio’ has the national team coaches enthused.
Pizzi since taking the reigns from Jorge Sampaoli has failed to play with an out-right ’10’. Alexis Sanchez floats in and out and so does Vidal but it is clear Valdivia’s ability to open up defences is missing and so to Matias Fernandez.
The talk continued upfront as Nicolas Castillo (Pumas de la UNAM MEX) got the nod ahead of Esteban Paredes who plays domestically for Santiago based side Colo-Colo. The 37-year-old is in hot form that seems to have not convinced Pizzi.
Another problem confronting Chile is the yellow cards in his squad, a problem however, the manager believes will not influence or change their tactics or style of play. Pizzi said his squad will play with the same intensity as ever, the style the world audience has grown to love.
Chile vs Paraguay
This match in Santiago is an interesting one as outsiders Paraguay on match day 7 ran out 2-1 winners in Asuncion. Paraguay, sadly, are sitting 8th outside qualification for Russia 2018 entering into a very hostile environment, Santiago, Chile.
La Roja on the other hand, have plenty to fight for as only one point separates Chile from fifth place Argentina. And as both countries await the verdict from TAS each point is as valuable as any.
Chile will be favourites in this match as qualification is paramount for the Copa America holders. Pizzi, will however need to adjust his line-up with Chileans calling for the manager to include Jorge Valdivia to the squad, the man destined to push Chile over the line in the final two qualifiers.
Surprisingly, the inclusion of Sanchez has shocked many as Chile’s leading goal scorer is yet to appear for the Gunners this season with an abdominal strain yet, Pizzi and the medical staff claim he will be fit leading up to the qualification matches.
A win will only suffice for La Roja. A loss will reap havoc across the country.
Bolivia vs Chile
This match is one where you sit back, get a drink and grab the popcorn. Bolivia and Chile have been rivals off the park for over 100 years in wars (really long story so read it here.
As Bolivia with TAS have been fighting for their own, Bolivia will enter this match with nothing to lose which, may in turn hurt Chile. Already eliminated Bolivia will be facing a rampant Chile who, with a win against Paraguay could all but secure their place in Russia.
Chile do have to worry about the amount of yellow cards in their squad but they will not deter the zest amongst the group.
*There will be a detailed preview after the Paraguay match.*