Chile’s national football team is all set to begin the journey to the World Cup. The fatidic failure of last qualifiers to Russia 2018 are still in the memory of most Chileans, but now a new opportunity arises. National coach Reinaldo Rueda announced the list of players that will be present in the first two eliminatory duels heading to Qatar 2022.
The national football team will be reunited after nearly one year due to the coronavirus pandemic that has affected the calendar of the qualifiers to Qatar and the Copa America. The latter should have been played this year in Argentina and Colombia, but was postponed to next year.
With Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez among the big names, the national team faces two highly competitive squads. The first challenge was lost, although in quite the scandalous way, against Uruguay on Oct. 8 in Montevideo. The other match will be in Chile against Colombia today, on Oct. 13. Both matches were initially scheduled for March.
In an interview for FIFA, Rueda said “apart from us, I admire Argentina for the fantastic job they’ve been doing. Then you’ve got Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. They’re four countries with a big pool of players to choose from and they’ve all been doing a good job too.”
The Big Absent Players
Claudio Bravo, Erick Pulgar and Pablo Aránguiz were unavailable due to injuries. Gary Medel and Fabián Orellana also had bad luck. Both players were in the final selection, but in their last games for their clubs, Bologna and Real Valladolid, respectively, they suffered injuries.
And while Marcelo Díaz (Racing Club) is probably the most popular due to his relevance in the last successful periods, he’s not on Rueda’s radar.
Another absence is Eugenio Mena (Racing Club), a left-back wing who has represented Chile on several occasions but this time isn’t being considered. Gonzalo Jara and Igor Lichnovsky, both important defenders, are out because they are suspended for yellow card accumulation.
Surprises and Key players
A big surprise was the call for Eduardo Vargas. The second best striker behind Alexis Sánchez was finally considered by Rueda.
Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez, both playing for Inter Milan and the leaders of Chile’s “golden generation,” will undoubtedly be the key players against Uruguay and Colombia.
Chilean Football Final Squad in Full
Goalkeepers: Gabriel Arias (Racing Club), Omar Carabalí (San Luis), Brayan Cortes (Colo Colo).
Defenders: Nicolás Díaz (Mazatlán), Paulo Díaz (River Plate), Mauricio Isla (Flamengo), Enzo Roco (Fatih Karagumruk), Francisco Sierralta (Watford), Guillermo Soto (Palestino) and Sebastián Vegas (Monterrey).
Midfielders: Tomás Alarcón (O’Higgins), Charles Aránguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Claudio Baeza (Necaxa), Rodrigo Echeverría (Cobresal), César Pinares (Universidad Católica), Lorenzo Reyes (Atlas), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna) and Arturo Vidal (Inter Milan).
Forwards: Víctor Dávila (Pachuca), José Pedro Fuenzalida (Universidad Católica), Jean Meneses (León), Juan Carlos Gaete (Cobresal), Alexis Sánchez (Inter Milan) and Eduardo Vargas (Tigres).