Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Barcelona), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
Defenders: Mauricio Isla (Marseille), Gonzalo Jara (Universidad de Chile), Gary Medel (Inter Milan), Eugenio Mena (Sao Paulo), Enzo Roco (Espanyol)
Midfielders: Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Jean Beausejour (Colo Colo), Marclo Diaz (Celta Vigo), Mark Gonzalez (Sport Recife), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Universidad Catolica), Pablo Hernandez (Celta Vigo), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), Francisco Silva (Chiapas), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich)
Attackers: Nicolas Castillo (Universidad Catolica), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo), Mauricio Pinilla (Atalanta), Edson Puch (LDU Quito), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Eduardo Vargas (Hoffenheim)
The Skinny: Chile are a rare defending champion with a chip on their shoulders. Despite winning the Copa America last year, they have something to prove. Many have said that the only reason Chile walked off the pitch with the trophy last year was because the field they played on was in Chile. So now it is up to manager Juan Antonio Pizzi and his 23-man squad to prove that the Chilean team is for real, and not just a flash in the pan.
If Pizzi does want to prove something to the rest of South America, and the world, he brought the right players to do it. The Chilean team is talented, with quality in every position, and very hardworking. Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, Mauricio Isla, Claudio Bravo and Gary Medel all play different positions, and all would start on just about any team in the tournament.
Starting with their attack, the Chileans will heavily feature Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, but also includes veteran Mauricio Pinilla and speedy Eduardo Vargas. Sanchez will likely draw the attention of opposing defenses with his combination of deadly speed and skill on the ball, creating chances for Vargas and Pinilla in front of goal. Another player who could find himself being key to Chile’s attack is winger Mark Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a last-minute addition to the squad, filling in for the injured Matias Fernandez, but he is a fast and technically skilled veteran winger who has played in some of the best leagues in the world.
Alexis Sanchez will be a huge threat to opposing defenses
Chile’s attack is certainly threatening, but their biggest area of strength is right in the middle of the pitch. Charles Aranguiz has found a place the first team of Bayer Leverkusen, the third-best team in the Bundesliga, and has performed well and proven his quality and balance in midfield all season. He will be lining up next to Arturo Vidal, maybe the most complete and most talented box-to-box midfielder in the world right now. Vidal can do it all for Chile, and with his work rate sometimes he does.
Defending is Chile’s weak point, and with only five defenders on the roster it isn’t hard to see why. Luckily for Chile, Isla, Medel and Gonzalo Jara are all experienced, quality players. However, Isla is a converted winger and Medel is a converted defensive midfielder; Jara is the only out-and-out defernder of the three. Medel has been playing on the defensive line for club team Internazionale long enough to be fine, and Isla is also well acquainted with his new position, and is enough of a workhorse to cover for some mistakes. Even so, Chile will want to stay on the offensive as much as possible if they want to go deep into this tournament.
Chile should make it through the group stage without too much of a problem, but they will hope to beat Argentina and take fist place in the group. If they finish second, they will likely play Mexico, the favorites of group C, in the first round. Mexico and Chile are a good matchup talent-wise, but Mexico is the hottest team in the tournament and has a good track record against the Chileans. They will also be playing effectively for a home crowd. If Chile win they will likely play a Suarez-less Uruguay, maybe a less threatening side than El Tri.
Key Performers: Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo
Predicted Finish in Group D: Second Place