Chile prepares to open up their World Cup tourney against Australia with or without their star midfielder.
By: Kevin Buckles Jr, Sports Editor
An injury to Juventus midfielder and world-class Chilean star Arturo Vidal may give the Chile national team cause for concern as they prepare to clash with Group B opponent Australia Friday evening at Arena Pantenal.
Vidal has been a question mark for the Chilean national team in the World Cup stemming from an operation performed on the meniscus in his right knee last month that has left him dealing with inflammation.
The 27-year old has been training with his team since Wednesday however, and was featured for 15 minutes in Chile’s 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in their final friendly before arriving to Brazil.
“Arturo trained like the rest of us. He did a good job and did not have any pain in his knee,” said Chile midfielder Gary Medel. “We hope that he can be with us for the first game. It will depend on him and how he feels. We want him to take care of himself and if he does play, we hope it (meniscus) doesn’t affect him.”
With Vidal hobbled, Chile will likely have to lean more heavily on Chilean native and Barcelona forward Alexis Sánchez to lead the attack against Australia and perhaps even beyond that if the injury continues to linger.
Though Chile’s best will not be at 100 percent, Australia still poses no real threat to earn a point against them.
The Aussie players lack significant experience on a grand stage such as the World Cup, with seven of their current roster members playing for A-league clubs.
Australia’s Head Coach Ange Postecoglou acknowledged his team’s inexperience but cites that they should be able to overcome that hurdle once they settle in on the field.
“For a lot of these players it’s their first go at the big stage and I’m sure there’s a little bit of uncertainty in their heads,” said Postecoglou. “If we can get through those initial moments we’ll be fine.”
Neither one of these teams are expected to advance to the Round of 16 with juggernauts Spain and Netherlands, the champions and runner-ups from the 2010 World Cup, co-existing in their group.
However, if one of these nations could make a run at bumping the Spanish or Dutch down in the standings, it is most definitely Chile because of their attacking style, experience, and star play.
With or without Vidal, Chile should have little trouble against the Aussie attack, winning 3-1.