‘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.
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.
As good as they are at playing high-intensity, exciting football, Chile are just as adept at shooting themselves in the foot; well the players certainly are. Once again Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi has had to contend with off-field problems only days before a crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Uruguay and Paraguay.
The squad that will be looking to add to the three points gained from the first pair of fixtures is much changed from the one that was announced at the end of October after five players were excluded from selection.
Jorge Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Carlos Carmona and Gonzalo Jara were sent away from La Roja squad having arrived back 45 minutes late from the christening of one of Valdivia’s sons. There were rumours that some had alcohol on their breath but ‘Bichi’ only announced that the players were ‘not in a proper state’.
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.
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.