Chile take on Australia this afternoon, with the South American side looking to kick-off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable three point victory.
The Socceroos, who are the lowest ranked side in Group B, are widely expected to roll over at the hands of their tournament opposition. Drawn in the “group of death” it will take a miracle for Tim Cahill and company to progress to the knock-out phase of the competition.
With the Chilean’s tipped as favourites to secure a victory this evening, here’s three players who could really make the difference.
The Barcelona frontman is a hugely influential figure for Jorge Sampaoli’s Chilean side and in the absence of key midfielder Arturo Vidal, his contribution could prove vital.
Sanchez headlines an aggressively attacking side whose high intensity style has the capacity to cause real problems for an inexperienced Australian team. He is more than capable of exploiting the gaps left by Davidson on Australia’s left-hand side, with the full-back known more for his attacking than defensive play.
The 27-year-old scored four goals in CONMEBOL qualifying and he’ll be looking to find the back of the net, at least once, this evening.
Striker Eduardo Vargas finished joint top-scorer for Chile in the qualifiers with five goals to his name, he ended the campaign level within injured midfield general Arturo Vidal.
Alongside Alexis Sanchez, the prolific Napoli-man will be the target upfront, where his quick, sharp diagonal runs behind the Socceroos’ defences are likely to be to provide another point of source of penetration for the South American side.
Juventus’ Mauricio Isla is vital in Sampaoli’s tactics, as he provides a fast, trustworthy option at full-back. He is a mainstay of La Roja and he is heavily relied on, to the extent that the Chilean’s have chosen against an understudy at right-back for the summer tournament.
The connection between the 26-year-old and Alexis Sánchez on the right flank, which dates back to when both played for Udinese, is an area from where Chile look to hurt teams the most.