PRETORIA - Chile are through to the
knockout stages of the World Cup but their indiscipline in
their final group match against Spain could cost them dearly as
they prepare to face Brazil for a place in the quarter-finals.
Their holding midfielder Marco Estrada was sent off in their
2-1 defeat by Spain in Pretoria on Friday night, and central
defenders Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel both received their second
yellow cards of the tournament.
Estrada's suspension for the match against Brazil in
Johannesburg on Monday evening is no big deal - he would almost
certainly have been dropped anyway in favour of Carlos Carmona,
who returns from suspension.
But the loss of Ponce and Medel is huge. Both have been rock
solid at the heart of the Chilean defence.
According to FIFA, which uses tracking technology to capture
data on each player at the World Cup and then assesses it to see
if it had a positive or negative impact on their team, Ponce and
Medel were the two most effective players in the tournament
during the first two matches.
Pablo Contreras and Ismael Fuentes are likely to replace the
two centrebacks but although both have plenty of experience,
they lack the calibre of Ponce and Medel.
The prospect of facing any team without your two
first-choice centrebacks is bad, but when that team is Brazil it
Despite their predicament, however, the Chileans have not
lost faith in their ability to reach the last eight of the World
Cup for the first time in nearly half a century.
"Brazil are one of the best teams in the world but I think
that if all of us play to our potential we can go through," said
Rodrigo Millar, scorer of Chile's goal against Spain.
Team mate Jean Beausejour recalled the last time that Chile
faced Brazil, in a World Cup qualifier last September. On that
occasion Chile clawed themselves back from 2-0 down to level the
match before conceding two late goals to lose 4-2.
"Unfortunately we couldn't win it but we need to take the
good things from that match and leave the bad things behind,"
The omens are not good for the Chileans though. Of their 65
encounters with Brazil down the years they have won just seven,
and on the two occasions they have met at a World Cup, the
Brazilians have won 4-2 and 4-1.
The last of those two meetings was at this stage of the
competition at France 98, when two goals apiece from Ronaldo and
Cesar Sampaio sunk Chile.
Unsurprisingly, Chilean defender Arturo Vidal chose not to
dwell on that memory and said Chile had improved since then.
"It was a different generation and the players we have today
have other ambitions," he said. "We finished second in the South
American qualifying group for the World Cup this time round, and
in 1998 that wasn't the case."
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