Portugal vs Chile – Match Preview

Portugal vs Chile - Match Preview

Confederations Cup, Semi Final

Kazan Arena, Russia 7pm

Portugal vs Chile – Match Preview – The Confederations Cup has been whittled down to the final four and the first semi-final pits European Champions Portugal against South American Champions Chile in Kazan.

The tournament has proceeded pretty much as expected for the Euro 2016 winners, a last-minute equaliser for fellow semi-finalists Mexico in an even 2-2 draw the only real setback to date for Fernando Santos’ men.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner in a solid 1-0 victory over hosts Russia before yet another man-of-the-match performance for the Real Madrid star in a 4-0 demolishing of OFC champions New Zealand. Consequentially, Portugal topped Group A on goal difference and as a reward face second place in Group B, Chile.

Chile’s ride to the semi-finals hasn’t been so convincing, it took two late goals to see off African Cup of Nations victors Cameroon in their opening game, before a good draw against tournament favourites Germany. Then, a weak performance in a limp 1-1 draw with Australia resulted in a second-place finish in the group and instead of playing Mexico, now must beat Portugal.

Underestimate Chile at your own peril though, the back-to-back Copa America champions are currently ranked 4th in the world (compared to Portugal’s 8th) and have been solid defensively while always providing a dangerous threat going forward for the last few years (think back to Chile beating England 2-0 at Wembley in 2013).

Portugal would much rather face Chile than World Cup 2014 winners Germany, however, but a great match is promised here with plenty of potential in attack, spearheaded by star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez respectively. A place in the final against the victors of Mexico and Germany awaits.

Both sides have only recently acquired their first ever taste of international silverware in the past few years (Chile 2015 Copa America victory and Portugal Euro 2016) so will be ravenous to continue that feast of winning.

Team News
Dortmund left-back Raphel Guerreiro has been ruled out with a suspected broken leg from the victory over Russia so Eliseu is set to continue his covering role on the left side of defence. Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva’s excellent form will give headaches to coach Fernando Santos, with Andre Gomes and William Carvalho at risk of losing their starting positions.

Chile have much less squad depth than their counterparts but Juan Antonio Pizzi will have a full squad to choose from, including key men Mauricio Isla, Arturo Vidal, and Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez became Chile’s all time record goalscorer with a goal against Germany in the Confederations Cup Photo Credit: skysports.com

Players to Watch
As mentioned above, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is absolutely crucial to Chile’s success. The ex-Barcelona man recently became his country’s all-time record goal-scorer, overtaking Marcelo Salas’ previous record of 37 with his 38th in the draw against Germany. This match also saw the dynamic forward extend his (and Claudio Bravo) record as his country’s joint-leading appearance maker too, with 112. Sanchez is one of the world’s best footballers with phenomenal ability on the ball, he’s equally capable of delicately splitting a defence or bulldozing his way through with sheer force of nature. Pair that with a deadly eye for goal and it is easy to see how he racked up an amazing 30 goals and 13 assists for Arsenal in all competitions last season; his best ever return. If Portugal keep Sanchez quiet, a big if, their chances of winning will increase tenfold.

Andre Silva has scored 8 goals in 11 International appearances Photo Credit: skysports.com

With all the talk surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and his ever-excellent form, Andre Silva’s brilliant performances have gone somewhat under the radar. With 8 goals in 11 senior Portugal appearances, and set to keep his place due to a wonderful performance capped with a goal against New Zealand in the last game, the Porto striker adds a different element to the Portuguese attack with his willingness to go in behind the defence, wonderful for players such as Bernardo Silva to link with. The 21-year-old’s destructive form last campaign (16 goals in 32 apps in Liga Nos and 4 goals in 8 in the Champions League) has earned the forward a lucrative £32m transfer to Italian sleeping giants AC Milan, who will be keen to see if this level of performance can be sustained on the international stage.

 

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