There were no surprises about the main topic discussion on the eve of Chile v Australia, but there remained some alarm about the subject.
LIVE: The latest news on Day 2, including Cameroon v Mexico, Spain v Netherlands and Chile v Australia
The fitness of injured midfielder Arturo Vidal offered the headlines, and he could yet settle the game. Chilean manager Jorge Sampaoli acknowledged there is a chance he could start, despite the Juventus star having only played 15 minutes since undergoing knee surgery at the end of his club's victorious Serie A campaign.
It would be a shame if Vidal did not appear.
This match may be very much the secondary fixture in Group B after Holland v Spain, but there is a strong argument that the 27-year-old is second to nobody in the world in terms of central midfield qualities.
Sampaoli even revealed his qualities while discussing Vidal’s chances of being fit.
“Of course, there is an athletic side to him. If he was not as strong, he would not be at this level. We hope he will be able to play.”
CHILE: Group B team profile
CHILE: Group B team profile
1/5 How they qualified
Chile qualified for their ninth World Cup after beating Ecuador 2-1, despite only requiring a point to go through, and ended up in third position behind Colombia and Argentina. The Latin American side were involved in some thrilling games, most notably the 3-3 draw with Colombia in which they surrendered a three-goal lead. Their main attribute and style of play is centred around attacking; spearheaded by a dangerous front three of Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas and Matias Fernandez. Their win at Wembley showed that they are not to be taken lightly.
Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli had a tough act to follow when he replaced the vaunted tactician Marcelo Bielsa who departed for Athletic Bilbao in 2010, but the 53-year-old has performed admirably. The majority of his career has been spent managing clubs in Peru, Ecuador and his native Argentina before moving to Chile. Sampaoli enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at Universidad de Chile, securing three titles and the Copa Sudamericana before joining the national side; he favours a free-flowing, attacking style of football. Of course, leaking 25 goals in qualifying highlights an alarmingly brittle defence which needs improvement, but his tactical style, focusing on attacking, means that the team is always likely to have gaps at the back.
3/5 Star man
The rise of the Juventus star has been a joy to behold. The 26 year-old has swiftly emerged as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the game. With a seemingly endless supply of stamina and pace, Vidal is the centre of Chile’s attacking game, but with a muscular frame, he’s not afraid to put a few tackles in and he scores fairly frequently too. With 53 caps, he is one of the more experienced heads in the squad, and will be an important part of the side that goes to Brazil next summer.
4/5 Emerging talent
At 23, Felipe Gutiérrez is one of the youngest players in the Chile squad; he plays his club football for Steve McClaren’s former side FC Twente. Named the Eredivisie’s player of the year last season, Gutierrez is making a name for himself in Holland as a goalscoring, left-footed midfielder. He has been troubled by a recurring knee injury at points this term, most recently in April, but Chile manager Jorge Sampaoli is confident the player will be fully fit for the finals. Gutierrez is unlikely to start in Brazil, but showed with a handful of substitute appearances in World Cup qualifying, he can perform have an impact when thrown into the competitive ring.
5/5 How they will line up (4-5-1)
Claudio Bravo, Eugenio Mena, Marcos Gonzalez, Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla, Jean Beausejour, Charles Aranguiz, Jorge Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas
So should the rest of the world. Vidal is a truly unique midfielder, and one of that rare breed that can make a central area look so overmanned simply by virtue of his sensational movement.
In that regard, it is no surprise that Manchester United have been so heavily linked with him. He would instantly solve so many of their central midfield problems.
For the moment, Chile must overcome the problem of getting him on the pitch. It could be key. His mobility has always been central - in so many senses - to their admirable pace of play, and the feeling remains they may need that extra edge to get a result against Australia. Given the nature of this group, they also need that result.
Anything less than a win would immediately take the pressure off Spain and Holland, given that Australia are not considered as credible a challenge for a top-two spot.
Chile need Vidal to get moving, in order to get them moving.Reuse content