‘The Red One’ has teamed up with Chile’s premier English language media group ‘I Love Chile‘ to provide even more news and comment on Chilean football.
After terrible performances against Ecuador and Colombia, Claudio Borghi is under pressure to keep his job. He is not helped by the fact he joins a full team on the sidelines for the match as Daniel Boyle finds out.
Following the 3-1 loss against Ecuador, Chile need a win to keep their World Cup qualifying campaign on track. Pressure is building on coach Claudio Borghi, who remains suspended after a verbal spray against officials in Venezuela.
Joining him on the sidelines is a full team worth of players, out through either injury or suspensions, including captain Claudio Bravo and vice-captain Humberto Suazo. I Love Chile has named a lineup that won’t be taking the field against Messi and friends.
Claudio Borghi has come under fire from all angles (img: apurogol.net)
It has been a while since we discussed Chile on here, but when we do there are usually off-field matters to talk about first, taking focus away from crucial World Cup qualifying matches. And once again it is no different as La Roja prepares for the upcoming double header; away to Ecuador on Friday and Tuesday’s home match with Argentina.
Only this time Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi has had to contend with more than one problem. Firstly, he won’t be on the sidelines in Ecuador or Santiago. A four-match FIFA ban – reduced from five – means that assistant Jamie Vera will take charge from the touchline.
Borghi was given a suspension due to a confrontation with the Colombian officials in Chile’s 2-0 away victory against Venezuela that saw the coach sent to the stands. It was reported that Borghi used ‘racist’ language. A claim Borghi has vehemently denied; Borghi is very likely to be telling the truth, shown by FIFA’s reduced sentence and recent documents that shed light on the incident. Borghi’s only offence seems to be using overly aggressive language towards the fourth official.
Chile scrapped their way past a Bolivian side, who can feel pained not to have picked up at least a point, thanks to goals late in each half by Charles Aránguiz and Arturo Vidal, in what was the fifth qualifying match for Brazil 2014.
The outcome was exactly what La Roja were looking for after the two comprehensive away defeats previously to Argentina and Uruguay and lifts them into second place behind Argentina in the qualifying standings. However the means in achieving the victory were not what football fans across the globe have come to expect from Chile.
A more clinical opponent in a match officiated by a competent referee could easily have resulted in Chile’s third defeat of the World Cup qualifying, leaving an uphill task for Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi’s side. But with Arturo Vidal back in the heart of the midfield La Roja huffed and puffed, scrapped and fought and eventually won through thanks in no part to the determination affirmed by the two goals scored from midfield.
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.
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.