Nickname: La Roja (The Red)
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 18
Chile is making their eighth World Cup appearance. They qualified for the World Cup in second place in the South American zone, just one point behind leaders Brazil. What made this qualification so impressive was the fact that this team had the youngest average age of all the South American teams and earned half of their points away from Santiago, the capital city. For such a young team to play well away from home bodes extremely well for their chances in South Africa. Add the fact that they were tied with the most victories in South America (10) and were second in goals scored (32 in only 18 matches) and you have a very dangerous team coming to the World Cup.
Chile were placed in Group H alongside Spain (ranked 2nd), Switzerland (ranked 24th) and Honduras (ranked 38th). Chile is currently predicted to come in second in this group behind Spain. This could provide an interesting scenario of them meeting their continental foes Brazil in the second round.
Chile are coached by Argentinean Marcelo Bielsa, is an experienced and impressive coach. Bielsa has been nicknamed El Loco (the crazy) because he is not afraid to try new tactics and is obsessive about his soccer. Bielsa is a disciplined coach who stresses hard work and demands respect from his players (which he gets). Bielsa has not only earned respect from the Chilean players but also from the fans, and is adored in Chile. If he can keep this young team focused and playing well he may enjoy a tremendous tenure with the Chilean national team.
The talent for this Chilean team lies on the attacking side of the ball and begins with Humberto Suazo. Suazo is a very talented forward who led the team in qualifying with ten goals. He seems to have a knack for being in the right spot at the right time and capitalizes on that. Joining Suazo up front will be young Alexis Sanchez, who at only 22 has already looked impressive for this team. Sanchez scored three times during qualifying, showcasing his great speed — something Chile would need from him in order to progress.
Another name to pay attention to is Matias Fernandez. Fernandez has all the talent and skills to be a great midfielder, but so far has yet to live up to his full potential. Chileans will hope that this 23-year-old can finally put it all together and consistently perform for them in South Africa. If he does, this team could surprise folks and provide some great moments for a country still reeling from devastating earthquakes.