After a stay of execution afforded to him in the aftermath of the defeats to Ecuador and Argentina in the last batch of World Cup qualifiers, Claudio Borghi knew he and his Chilean side had to deliver a performance of significant improvement in the friendly with Serbia.
Ninety torrid minutes later and Borghi had departed, or has he told the media sacked. Ninety insipid minutes; the match clock not acting as a timer for the game but a countdown until La Roja were Borghi-less, something which fans up and down the Chilean peninsula were eager to see.
‘Fuera Borghi’ (Borghi out) was the message scrawled onto Chile’s Juan Pinto Durán training complex in Macul after the 3-1 defeat to Ecuador in the World Cup qualifier. Accompanied by ‘Vergüenza nacional’ (national shame) and ‘Ladrones’ (thieves), the message was clear: changes needed to be made as Borghi’s reputation had hit an all-time low amongst fans.
The messages appeared after that defeat to Ecuador and before the game against Argentina. La Roja went out against Argentina like a team possessed; hunting down the ball when they didn’t have it and rampant when they did. They moved the ball, down the wings, at electrifying speed, bombarding the Argentina rearguard with crosses. Yet their intense first-half pressure did not yield results, instead they trailed two goals to nil; the defence picked apart by what can only be described as a ‘dream’ frontline: Ángel di María, Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero and Lionel Messi.
The game finished 2-1 and Chile dropped out of CONMEBOL’s World Cup play-off place, behind Venezuela and Uruguay on goal difference.
Claudio Borghi today (Wednesday August 1) announced his squad for Chile’s friendly with Ecuador which takes place in New York on 15 August.
The friendly with their South American rivals is the warm-up match for the three World Cup qualifying matches that take place in September and October.
Marcelo Díaz, Junior Fernándes and Matías Fernández have all been left out due to moving clubs while Ángelo Henríquez has not been included as he is currently away with the Chilean under-20 side who are touring Europe in preparation for qualifying for the World Cup in Turkey next year.
There is a recall for Universidad Católica Fernando Meneses while Palermo’s Carlos Labrín and Santiago Wanderers’ Agustín Parra are both called into the full squad. Huachipato’s César Cortés is a surprise addition.
Thanks to some crafty work by those at the ANFP the squad can be seen in this handy graphic:
The importance and of Arturo Vidal to Chile was evident last week as Claudio Borghi named his 25-man squad for the upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifying double header against Bolivia and Venezuela.
Serving a 10 game suspension from the national side, along with Carlos Carmona, Gonzalo Jara, Jean Beausejour and Jorge Valdivia for the part they played in the ‘Chile 5’in November last year, it was expected Vidal would miss the crucial qualifying matches with Chile lying 5th in the qualification table.
However Vidal has been pardoned by the ANFP – Chilean Football Association – allowing him to take his place in Borghi’s squad.
In the last few weeks Arturo has been one of the star players in Serie A, scoring four goals in his last eight games, as Juventus claimed their first Serie A title since relegation to Serie B after the Calciopoli scandal that engulfed the Italian Peninsula in 2006.
Two minutes. That is all it took for Chile to put Friday’s defeat to Argentina behind them and kick-start the long road to Brazil 2014 with a manic 4-2 win over Andean rivals Peru – providing the perfect tonic for an ill Claudio Borghi. Defensive errors that plagued the team in the 4-1 defeat to La Albiceleste were still evident and show no sign of being eradicated but further forward La Roja continue to exhilarate and excite.
Eduardo Vargas – who was one of three Chilean changes from Friday – gave La Roja a dynamic presence in attack troubling Peru with his direct runs and pace while the combination of Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal in the midfield provide a solid base with bite – defensively and offensively. Then there is ‘El Mago’ himself, Jorge Valdivia. He truly is the magician, his feet wands linking midfield and attack, disappearing and reappearing at the right times.
It wasn’t the start to World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014 Chile had in mind; falling behind early on did not seem to deter La Roja but a second goal before half-time and when Chile were enjoying a period of domination all but ended the contest. Here is a belated review of some talking points from the game on Friday:
1. Claudio Borghi got it wrong
As admirable as it was to state that “we will attack” Argentina from the beginning and setting his team up in a 3-3-2-2 (ish) formation – which included two wing-backs, two ‘No 10s’ and two strikers – Borghi got it wrong. Simple as that. With injuries in defence robbing ‘Bichi’ (Borghi’s nickname) of Pablo Contreras and Osvaldo González there was a required shifting of personnel and a vital midfield component, Arturo Vidal, to the backline. The back three should have been given greater protection than a sole midfield holder (Carlos Carmona), flanked by two wing-back-cum-wingers.
Despite problems in defence and the absence of Alexis Sánchez’s star quality Chile will be hoping to catch Argentina cold in Buenos Aires on Friday as La Albiceleste enter a period of transition under yet another manager.
The race to Brazil 2014 starts now – Friday to be precise – for the South American qualifiers. Since Brazil automatically qualify as hosts it leaves the remaining nine countries playing for four and a half slots – the half being the country that finishes 5th, who will enter a two-legged play-off contest against a country from the Asian Football Confederation.
With over half of the competing countries potentially joining Brazil at the World Cup in under three years time it is shaping up to be the most competitive qualifying process in South American history, especially when you consider that countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela are no longer considered whipping boys, while Peru are much improved after a fabulous performance at the Copa América.