Wednesday, Jun. 02, 2010


Manager: Marcelo Bielsa

Best: Third place (1962)

Long having suffered in the shadow of its more illustrious neighbors Argentina and Brazil, Chile qualified for its first World Cup since 1998 in impressive style, finishing second on the continent behind the all-conquering Brazilians. Having already given his glamorous rivals a run for their money, coach Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to do the same in a World Cup group whose second qualifying spot seems up for grabs. Attacking midfielder Matias Fernandez is a potent goal threat, while Humberto Suazo, the striker who plies his trade with Spain's Real Zaragoza, can be a clinical finisher. Gary Medel likes to complement his defensive duties with successful forays into the opposition's penalty area, while South Africa 2010 could provide the stage for winger Mark Gonzales, who was actually born in the host country, to resurrect his once-promising reputation. He failed to deliver the goods for Liverpool after a protracted move eventually went through a few years ago but former Liverpool legend — and BBC Sport pundit — Mark Lawrenson has marked out Gonzales's Chile as his dark horses.

Player to watch: Matias Fernandez. Expect the Sporting Club de Portugal midfielder to have a hand in much of Chile's attacking play, and to bag a goal or two himself.