Copa America 2021 preview: Can underdog Chile spring a surprise again?
The 2021 edition of Copa America is approaching fast, as it is set to be held in Brazil. Chile happens to be a former two-time champion, having won it consecutively in 2015 and 2016. However, will the underdogs be a dark horse again this term?
The Copa America 2021 is all set to take place in Brazil, starting June 13. Although the host nation itself is the favourite this term, owing to its clean winning record as host, other teams can burst into the scene, especially the underdogs.
Speaking of underdogs, Chile is one such team that has the element of surprise of late, having shocked the South American football fraternity by winning the 2015 and 2016 edition, beating Argentina in the final on each occasion. Although it failed in the previous edition, it did put up a fight, finishing fourth.
However, is the side strong enough to spring a surprise yet again this term, especially when Brazil has the home advantage? On the same note, we present the team preview.
The goalkeeping department would be headlined by Claudio Bravo, who is a 38-year-old veteran and has been serving the side for a long time, besides being a force at the goal line. He is likely to be supported by Gabriel Aras and Brayan Cortes.
Speaking of its defence, it lacks enough star power of late, with Oscar Opazo and Paulo Diaz being the only two strong enough to fit the line-up. Among others, Sebastian Vegas and Alfonso Parot are the two likely ones to assist the formers.
In the midfield, the man to headline it would be none other than Inter Milan's Arturo Vidal. However, barring him, it hardly possesses any big names, with Cesar Pinares, Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, Claudio Baeza and Diego Valdes being a few possible candidates in the department.
As for the forward line-up, Vidal's Inter teammate Alexis Sanchez would lead the business. Although the line-up lacks any prominent name other than him, Eduardo Vargas, Fabian Orellana and Angelo Henriquez are sure to come in handy.
Players to watch out
Sanchez: The Inter striker had a phenomenal season. Although he could score just seven goals in 38 games across competitions, he did well to help the side win the Serie A title. Consequently, he is sure to carry the smooth form into the tournament. However, since the forward line-up would be somewhat dependent on him, he could be under some pressure.
Vidal: The mid-fielder had an average season with Inter, scoring a couple in 30 matches across tournaments. Although his performance has not been ideal of late, he still plays a vital role in Chile's midfield and is an effective playmaker. He has a challenging task to lead the department, lacking some prominent names.
Bravo: The former Barcelona and Manchester City goalkeeper is at the twilight phase of his career, playing for Real Betis. With this possibly being his lat Copa America, Bravo would look to end it on a high and will have the arduous task of stopping some deadly attacks from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Chances and predictions
It took 99 years for Chile to win its maiden Copa title under Jorge Sampaoli. The side has been shaky, winning just a game of its four FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Also, placed in a strong group, Chile has to put up its A-game alongside Argentina and Uruguay. Nevertheless, judging by its current run, it is unlikely to progress beyond quarters.
Chile schedule (Group A)
June 14: vs Argentina (Rio de Janerio)
June 18: vs Bolivia (Cuiabá)
June 21: vs Uruguay (Cuiabá)
June 24: vs Paraguay (Brasília)
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