Chile forward Alexis Sanchez has guaranteed his side victory when they face Brazil to begin the World Cup’s knockout stages on Saturday.
Beating out holders Spain to finish as Group B runners-up to the Netherlands, Chile have earned many plaudits for their adventurous, attacking style and, with the host nation having largely underwhelmed thus far, there is a firm belief that manager Jorge Sampaoli’s outfit could cause an upset on the weekend.
‘First of all, we are going to win the game,’ Sanchez said. ‘We came here to make history and that’s what we’re doing. We already beat the world champions, winning the first match. We stumbled against the Netherlands but it was also useful to improve upon our mistakes.
‘On Saturday we’re going to try to win the match and to keep accomplishing the dream that we all want, which is to win the World Cup.’
Having scored 23 times in 69 internationals appearances, Sanchez is playing in his second World Cup campaign, after also helping guide Chile out of their group at South Africa 2010, ultimately falling in the last 16 to the side they will face at the same stage this time around.
Out for revenge four years on, the 25-year-old has proved the team’s clear talisman over their first three matches, despite having just the one goal to his name, with his standout pace and dribbling-prowess undoubtedly holding the key to unlocking the largely untested Brazil defence.
What’s more, the World Cup is currently acting as an effective shop window, with the Barcelona attacker looking increasingly likely to be heading for the exit door at the club, despite coming off a 19-goal season in La Liga.
Originally signed from Udinese in July 2011 for £21 million, Sanchez has been strongly linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal over recent weeks, as new Barca coach Luis Enrique looks to remodel his squad at the Nou Camp, with an intense tug of war set to play out between the three sides.
Reportedly valued from anywhere between £22 million and £27 million, a performance to knock the favourites out tomorrow could well see the bidding war ratcheted up, as Chile continue to demonstrate why they were the worthy dark horse pick of the tournament.