Chile vs Bolivia | Saturday 20 June | Estadio Nacional, Santiago | 01:30
Chile and Bolivia will conclude Group A with both sides looking to claim top spot and be pitted against one of the best third-placed teams. They both lie on four points after two games, which makes this a winner-takes-all clash.
To Win (90mins)
Hosts Chile were always favourites to top the group, but their journey thus far hasn’t been straightforward. They were under immense pressure in their opener against Ecuador but a late goal against the run of play from Eduardo Vargas sealed the three points. Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal opened the scoring in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot. Vargas and Vidal were again La Roja’s scorers in their second match as they came from behind twice to earn a valuable point that assures them a place in the quarter-finals. However, Vidal, who claimed a brace against Mexico, took his celebrations after the match overboard as he ended the evening in jail after crashing his Ferrari and being caught under the influence of alcohol. However, the Juventus star has since returned to training and will be looking to put that embarrassment behind him with another assured display. Chile’s biggest attacking threat, Alexis Sanchez, has so far failed to get on the scoresheet but his importance thus far cannot be undermined. The Arsenal man posted impressive numbers in Chile’s last game with Mexico, including ranking second only to playmaker Jorge Valdivia in terms of touches (79) and also having the most dribbles (4). Even though Chile could not find a winner, Alexis did keep the fight right until the end, even recovering the ball high up the pitch late on to keep the pressure on Mexico as the hosts pushed on. His devastating pace and creative movement with the ball will be a frightening and astonishing sight for Bolivia’s defenders.
While Bolivia will be giving their all to claim a win that will earn them top spot in Group A, they will know that even a loss will see them advance to the knockout stages, something they have failed to achieve in the last five Copa Americas. They are coming off a highly-impressive 3-2 victory over Ecuador on Monday. It was their first win in the tournament since 1997, when they went on to reach the final against Brazil. Captain Ronald Raldes, Martin Smedberg-Dalence and star striker Marcelo Moreno all got goals in the first half to bury their opponents early. Away from their capital La Paz, Bolivia often struggle to pick up positive results. Being a city that sits 3,600 metres above sea level, El Verde tend to capitalise on their opposition's failure to cope with the thin air. Mauricio Soria may be their third manager in just five matches, but if performances at the Copa are anything to go by, perhaps the 49-year-old has started to steady the ship following a run of results that had returned just one win from seventeen matches. Bolivia are expected to give the hosts a good challenge as they have started to rely on their younger players, with only a few experienced veterans around them.
VERDICT: Chile 3/10
Chile’s last performance was an improved one from their opening game and they are tipped to get stronger as the tournament progresses and should claim all three points against South America’s lowest ranked team.