South American correspondent Tom Webber brings you all the action from the Copa America.
Chile are unbeaten since they lost 2-1 to Ukraine in a friendly in Kiev back in September of last year. This also means that Claudio Borghi, the current coach who took over from Marcelo Bielsa, is unbeaten since taking over in March. Due to this Chile’s odds have shortened to become third favourites to win the tournament, moving ahead of group rivals Uruguay. The two teams faced eachother last night in what many were hoping would be one of the ties of the tournament so far.
Alvaro Perreira of Porto put the Uruguayans ahead after an uneventful first half. He owed the credit for his goal to the hard work of Luis Suarez. The Liverpool front man’s determination was key to the goal. He picked up the ball in the box as the Chileans struggled to clear it eight minutes into the second half. He beat a defender and drove to the byline before cutting the ball back between two defenders. Perreria found himself free on the penalty spot as the ball came to him. He had enough time to control the ball and slam it low in the goal without being closed down.
It only took ten minutes for Chile to come back with a response with a good passing move down the left. Jean Beausejor was played in on the left flank by Jorge Valdivia, the Birmingham man took one touch to control the ball before moving it on. He passed the ball to Alexis Sanchez who found himself in space in the box. Sanchez showed why he is in such high demand with a beautifully placed shot from the centre of the box, finding the right hand corner. From Beausejor’s ball he managed to control the ball and finish it in a couple of swift movements, opening his account for this year’s tournament.
Neither team could find the winning goal and the game ended 1-1. Chile now top the group and Uruguay currently sit in third. Uruguay will advance if they defeat Mexico in their last game, and Chile just need a result against Peru to progress. Hopefully we will see even more from Sanchez in the next few games. Chile stand a good chance of a decent draw in the quarter finals if they manage to finish top. This will put them in good stead for a chance of winning the tournament if Argentina and Brazil do not pick up their form.
However, if they wish to have any serious chance of winning the tournament, they will have to ensure that having to come from behind does not become a trait that plagues them. They have been behind in both games they have played so far, but still managed to get a result. While this shows great resilience and character, it is not something that should be ignored. Chile may find it difficult to recover from going behind to the bigger teams in the tournament, so they must try to come out of the blocks quicker and start well against Peru in their next game.
So far the tournament has not really shown any side who actually look capable of winning the tournament convicingly. This does however give teams such as Chile and Uruguay a much better chance of reaching the final rounds of the tournament and performing well against the chiefs of South American football, Brazil and Argentina. Sanchez, voted the world’s most promising youngster in a recent FIFA poll, will hope to pick up some more goals in order to justify his high price-tag. At only 22 he is an extremely exciting talent and will be integral as Chile hope to mount a bid for the Championship.