Claudio Borghi sprang a pleasant surprise for Chilean football fans by recalling Alexis Sanchez to La Roja’s squad for the crucial (they’re all crucial to be fair) World Cup qualifying double header with the Copa America finalists, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The Barcelona attacker missed the first pair of matches against Argentina and Peru due to a hamstring injury picked up against Real Sociedad in early September. Event though there is concern from Barcelona, amongst others, about his fitness Borghi had no qualms over calling him up to the 25 man sqauad.
Sanchez adds to the already bulging attacking talent at Bichi’s disposal. Attacking talent that persuaded the Chilean coach to go to Buenos Aires with three forwards and a ‘No 10’, only to suffer a 4-1 defeat before plundering four goals themselves in a devastating attacking performance against Peru in Santiago.
Arguably, just as important as the return of Sanchez is the recall for the fit again Pablo Contreras. La Roja are an attacking and expansive side that do leave gaps at the back, six goals conceded in two games proves testament to that, so a first choice back three is vital in conceding less than they score.
League leaders and Copa Sudamericana challengers Universidad de Chile provide the most players with six clearly impressing Bichi during their excellent run in both competitions; Osvaldo and Marcos González, Marcelo Díaz, Eugenio Mena, Charles Aránguiz and Eduardo Vargas are the players.
Despite being in the news for the wrong reasons Jorge Valdivia keeps his place in the squad. ‘El Mago’ was caught kissing a woman outside a club in Brazil. A woman who was not his wife.
Three points picked up from the two games so far places Chile in the middle of the qualification table which lives up to expectation that this will be the most competitive qualifying round in history.
The first leg is in Montevideo on the 11th of November with Paraguay coming to Santiago four days later.
Squad in full:
Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad, Spain)
Miguel Pinto (Atlas, Mexico)
Luis Marín (O’Higgins)
Pablo Contreras (PAOK, Greece)
Osvaldo González (U . de Chile)
Waldo Ponce (Cruz Azul, Mexico)
Christian Vilches (Colo Colo)
Gonzalo Jara (Brighton & Hove Albion (On Loan from West Bromwich Albion)England)
Marco Gonzalez (U. de Chile)
Arturo Vidal (Juventus , Italy)
Carlos Carmona (Atalanta, Italy)
Gary Medel (Sevilla, Spain)
Marcelo Diaz (U. de Chile)
Mauricio Isla (Udinese, Italy)
Charles Aranguiz (U. de Chile)
Jean Beausejour (Birmingham, England) – Suspended for Uruguay match
Matías Campos Toro (Audax Italiano)
Eugenio Mena (U. de Chile)
Matías Fernández (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal)
Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras, Brazil)
Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona, Spain)
Eduardo Vargas (U. de Chile)
Humberto Suazo (Monterrey, Mexico)
Mauricio Pinilla (Palermo, Italy)
Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo)
Guest under-20 player: Sebastián Martínez (U. de Chile)
Uruguay are without their injured talisman Diego Forlan but have their own arsenal of attacking weapons including el Matador, Edinson Cavani. There are also call-ups for Colo Colo pair, goalkeeper Juan Castillo and defender Andrés Scotti. Uruguay squad:
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray, Turkey), Martín Silva (Olimpia, Paraguay), Juan Castillo (Colo Colo, Chile).
Defenders: Diego Lugano (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Diego Godín (Atlético de Madrid, Spain), Sebastián Coates (Liverpool, England), Andrés Scotti (Colo Colo), Martín Cáceres (Sevilla, Spain), Jorge Fucile (Porto, Portugal) and Mauricio Victorino (Cruzeiro, Brazil).
Midfield: Álvaro Pereira and Cristian Rodríguez (Porto), Egidio Arévalo Ríos (Tijuana, México), Sebastián Eguren (Sporting Gijón, Spain) Diego Pérez and Gastón Ramírez (Bologna, Italy), Walter Gargano (Napoli, Italy), Álvaro González (Lazio, Italy), Alvaro Fernández (Seattle Sounders, USA and Nicolás Lodeiro (Ajax, Holland).
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Luis Suárez (Liverpool, England), Sebastián Abreu (Botafogo, Brazil), Abel Hernández (Palermo, Italy) and Sebastián Fernández (Málaga, Spain)