World Cup 2014 Preview: Chile hopes to make noise at World Cup

 

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The devotion to attack helped the Chileans emerged from Group H as runners-up behind Spain, but it ultimately cost them in the knockout round as they were picked apart by a more clinical Brazilian side.

Chile was somewhat of a wild card ahead of the 2010, but with four years to strengthen team chemistry, La Roja will not sneak up on anyone in Brazil.

The country's squad remains largely unchanged from the previous World Cup as key pieces like Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel and Alexis Sanchez were named to the 23-man roster.

Since the last World Cup, Sanchez has made the jump from promising player to global superstar. The 25-year-old enjoyed a banner year with Barcelona, scoring 19 goals in league play. He was will attract the majority of attention from viewers and opposing players alike.

Isla, 25, has gained much more experience since his exploits at the 2010 World Cup, splitting his club allegiances with two seasons at Udinese before making the switch to Juventus in 2012.

The same could be said for Medel, who was a key defender for Sevilla in a run of a few impressive seasons. The 26-year-old moved to Cardiff City last summer, and while the Welsh club was relegated from the Premier League, Medel enjoyed a solid campaign on a personal level.

Claudio Bravo will be Chile's goalkeeper and captain for the tournament. At 31 years of age, his 79 caps make him the most experienced player on the roster.

On the offensive end, Esteban Paredes, Mauricio Pinilla, Eduardo Varas, Jean Beausejour and Fabian Orellana all have a chance to chip in as Sanchez cannot be expected to carry the team out of a group that consists of Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.

It will be up to manager Jorge Sampaoli to deploy the best configuration of talent in order to get Chile out of Group B. Sampaoli is a tactician in the same mold of his predecessor, Bielsa. The Argentine loves to set his teams up to attack from all angles. While that continuity from manager to manager should eliminate any potential hiccups, it will be interesting to see if Sampaoli can rectify the defensive weaknesses that Bielsa seemed to neglect.

Perhaps the biggest storyline surrounding the Chilean team is the fitness of Arturo Vidal.

Vidal is one of the most well-rounded central midfielders in the world, but he was a somewhat surprising inclusion in Sampaoli's final roster following a recent knee operation. But the 27-year-old made the cut and now faces a race against time to reach full fitness in order to aid the nation's World Cup efforts.

Chile is more than capable of making it out of Group B without Vidal, but its outlook would be much brighter if the Juventus man is able to suit up.

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