On Friday, the other two teams in Group B meet as Chile faces Australia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá. While it's not really fair to call Chile one of the "other" teams, when you're in a group with Spain and the Netherlands, it's bound to happen. While Australia are expected to post little threat in the group, Chile are a legitimate contender to prevent either the Dutch or Spanish for advancing to the next round.
Chile play an aggressive, high-energy 4-3-3 formation that was instituted by head coach Jorge Sampaoli when he took over midway through CONMEBOL qualifying. Depth will be an issue for Chile since they lack a great deal of it. If Sampaoli's preferred 11 players can stay healthy, and on the pitch, there's no reason that La Roja can't advance.
Australia are a bit of a tough team to predict thanks to a coaching change made after they'd qualified for the World Cup. The Socceroos are now led by Ange Postecoglou, tasked by the Aussie FA to help usher in the next generation of Australian players.
With little in terms of preparation time, Postecoglou will likely stick with a fairly vanilla 4-4-2 centered around Mile Jedinák in the midfield and Tim Cahill up front. It's nothing flashy, and their slim hopes of escaping Group B will hinge on their ability to defend like crazy and steal some goals on set pieces and counter attacks.
Know the Basics
Know the Basics
Alexis Sánchez is going to be one of the keys for Chile's success in this World Cup, and a definite player to watch. Their difficult group draw means that they have little room for error if they want to advance to the knockout stages. Sánchez is a dynamic striker, capable of scoring some amazing goals that will leave your jaw on the floor. He's got great speed, he's a solid passer, and a generally enjoyable player to watch.
A healthy Arutro Vidal -- he's close to a return from knee surgery -- would give Chile a huge boost in the midfield. Like we mentioned before, depth is an issue for La Roja, and missing a player with Vidal's skill set would be a blow. Vidal has become a world class box-to-box midfielder at Juventus, with a reputation for tough nosed play and hard tackles. He's a versatile player though, and can adapt to play whatever role Sampaoli requires.
While many of the former national team stars have been left behind, striker Tim Cahill returns for his third appearance in the World Cup. He's the all-time leading goal scorer for the Socceroos, and while the 34-year-old isn't quite the goal scoring threat he used to be, he remains more than capable of putting the ball in the back of the net. He'll be an especially important player for opposing players to keep an eye on during set pieces, as Cahill has a nose for goal.
Mile Jedinák is a solid box-to-box midfielder, a player capable of playing both a role in the defense and get involved on the attack as well. If Australia hope to challenge in the group, his play will be vital in helping prevent opposing teams from completely dominating the midfield.