Portugal vs Chile – Wednesday 19:00BST/20:00 CEST – Kazan Arena – Kazan, Russia.
On Wednesday Portugal and Chile will be meeting in their first ever competitive fixture. The two countries have met on two previous occasions, but the two matches were friendly games. Given the status of both Portugal and Chile, the fact that this will be the first ever competitive encounter will be somewhat surprising, and the match should provide a highlight for neutral observers at this summer’s 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Portugal have been one of the most dominant teams at this summer’s competition. The Seleção Portuguesa started the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Mexico and then defeated Russia 1-0 on matchday 2 before dismantling New Zealand 4-0 on matchday 3. As a result, Portugal finished the group in first place on seven points ahead of Mexico thanks to the better goal differential.
Chile, on the other hand, were by many considered the favourites in Group B. Especially, because Germany decided to field a relatively inexperienced side at this tournament. But despite the fact that Chile started strong against die Mannschaft on matchday 2 La Roja failed to capitalise on their early lead and had to eventually settle for a 1-1 draw against a German team that proved to be in many ways more energetic than Chile’s national team.
Speaking to the travelling Chilean press at the tournament one gets the sense that La Roja could be coming at the end of a cycle. The squad is ageing, and there are very few young players coming up that could eventually replace superstars like Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez. Hence, the time is now for Chile to win one last trophy and push on for the 2018 World Cup next summer.
At the same time, one gets a sense that the time has already past for Chile at this tournament. The side often seems sluggish and incapable of responding to young and more dynamic teams. Even Australia proved to be a difficult opponent for La Roja and Chile were lucky that Trent Sainsbury missed a sitter in the second half for Australia, which could have eliminated the Chilean squad from the tournament.
For the game against Portugal, this means that Chile will be the underdogs. Portugal has proven to be a resilient force here in Russia. Furthermore, Cristiano Ronaldo’s appetite for ever more goals will propel the Seleção forward and likely mean a second final in two years.
Portugal vs Chile – Players to look out for:
Cristiano Ronaldo #7 Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the main story of this tournament. The Portuguese forward has been accused of tax fraud by the Spanish government and then announced that he was going to leave Real Madrid. His statement that he wants to leave Real is possible ruse to press for more support in the charges against him as well as an increase in salary. There was some expectations around the Portugal squad that Ronaldo could be distracted with what has been going on at his club. But the opposite seems to be the case. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game-winner against Russia on matchday 2 and then added a second goal against New Zealand. In fact, Ronaldo appears to be in top form and the likely candidate for the player of the tournament especially if Portugal reach the final against Chile.
Alexis Sánchez #7 Chile
Alexis Sánchez has been as much a topic this summer’s transfer window as Cristiano Ronaldo. Linked with a move to Bayern and Manchester City Sánchez has very much attempted to stay out of the spotlight with the media at this tournament. The quick winger has often been guarded during press opportunities and refused to answer questions about his future. Sánchez has, however, been one of Chile’s best players on the field. A difference maker in the opening game against Cameroon and then in the second match against Germany Sánchez is a constant threat for the oppositions defensive line. Now against Portugal Sánchez will have to be in top form for his country to have a realistic chance to win the third trophy in as many years.
Portugal vs Chile – Match Stats
- This is only the third match between the two countries.
- Portugal have a winning record against Chile (W1 D1 L0).
- The last match between the two countries was in 2011 and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Prediction: Portugal vs Chile 2-1
Portugal vs Chile – Possible Lineups
Rui Patricio – Eliseu, Bruno Alves, Jose Fonte, Nelson Semedo – Moutinho, William Carvalho – Quaresma, Bernado Silva – Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva
Coach: Fernando Santos
Bravo – Mena, Medel, Roco, Isla – Vidal, Diaz, Aranguiz – Sánchez, Vargas, Fuenzalida
Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.