Protugal and Chile play in the Confederations Cup 2017 semi-final in Russia today and despite that both teams have plenty to offer in terms of team and individual qualities, their stars Cristiano Ronald and Alexis Sanchez are in the focus of the game?
Why? One of the reasons is that both players look a bit unsettled in Real Madrid and Arsenal. Cristiano Ronaldo is angry with the Spanish tax authorities and who knows, probably a bit fed up with with his Real Madrid career, in which he has won virtually everything.
Alexis Sanchez himself looks disappointed with Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League last season. He is also dissatisfied with the Gunners lack of success in competing for the Premier League title and for the Champions League’s top spots. Alexis has been brilliant for the Arsenal last season, scoring goals, making assistances and he’s right to question his team ability to win trophies. Ironically, the Chilean is in a similar situation to the one, in which Luis Suarez was at the end of the Liverpool’s season 2013/2014 – a world class player, adored by the fans, playing for a team, which underachieved. I was Suarez transfer to Barcelona, that made Alexis Sanchez to leave Barca. Now, like the Uruguayan few years ago, now Alexis must decide on whether he gives Arsenal few more years or to move on in search for trophies.
Confederations Cup – a tournament to prove something?
Both Ronaldo and Sanchez want to win the Confederations Cup for themselves and their countries. Despite being world-class players, they play for countries full of talent, but still a bit short of footballing capabilities compared to Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Argentina or France. Therefore, it is harder for both Portugal and Chile to win a Word Cup, as other big football nations do. Both of them have won their continental tournaments – the Euros and Copa America and now look to add another international trophy to their trophy shelves.
Portugal looks like a favorite in the semi-final?
Cristiano Ronaldo has started all three games in the Confederations Cup and won “Man of the Match” awards in all of them. Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva are also expected to start against Chile. William Carvalho and Andre Gomes are at risk to miss the game, however.
“We are very happy to be in the semi-finals. We played very well, we wanted to win and get the result in the first half, but it was hard to play better than we played because the grass wasn’t very good. We know that in the semi-finals both Chile is a great team, but we are confident and want to win”, said Ronaldo after Portugal qualified for the semi-final.
Portugal expected starting 11: Patricio, Eliseu, Fonte, Alves, Cedric, Carvalho, Gomes, Adriel Silva, Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo, Andre Silva
Chile – ambitious and motivated
The Chileans won just one of their group games, 2:0 against Cameroon and drew against Germany and Australia. In the last match i the group stage, against the Aussies the came come from behind to finish a 1-1 and had a lot of issues on the pitch against Australia’s who played a physical, high-pressing game.
The Chileans know that it is all about hard work, closing spaces for the Portugal’s offensive players and being sharp on counter attacks. Diego Zandrino interviewed Chile’s defender Mauricio Isla for the FIFA’s website and asked him is Cristiano Ronaldo has prepared in order to get the better of him?
“I don’t think Cristiano has prepared to get past me or any of our full-backs. Rather than me specifically, I imagine that he’s considered how to deal with the Chile team as a whole, just as we’ve thought about the Portuguese team and not just him on his own“, said Isla. He has added that Portugal has much more than Cristiano Ronaldo in the likes of Ricardo Quaresma, Luis Nani and Andre Gomes. Isla added that he has played with Bruno Alves and he knows “what a formidable defender he is”. The Chilean defender said that his team mates is wary of the entire Portuguese team.
Chile’s expected starting 11: Bravo; Isla, Medel, Jara, Beausejour; Aranguiz, M. Diaz, Hernandez, Vidal; Vargas, Sanchez