The Estadio Nacional. Chile v Argentina. 16 October 2012. Four years to the day since Marcelo Bielsa recorded arguably his finest win in charge of La Roja; a 1-0 victory over La Albiceleste giving Chile their first ever competitive win against Argentina. Now the Nacional is the scene of Claudio Borghi’s, Bielsa’s successor, last stand.
A positive result against their rivals and Borghi should be able to hang onto his job until the next round of qualifying matches, with Chile still in a good position to qualify for Brazil. Lose and the Chilean fans will do their damndest to get their wish of Borghi being relieved of his duties.
Fans have already made their feelings known at Chile’s training base in Macul, Santiago; ‘Borghi Out’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘National Shame’ were scrawled onto the training complex while eggs were also thrown.
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.