View Single Post
Old June 15, 2010, 11:40 PM
al-Sagar's Avatar
al-Sagar al-Sagar is offline
Cricket Savant
Join Date: December 23, 2007
Location: The Quiet Place
Favorite Player: Curtly Ambrose
Posts: 27,469
Default Honduras v Chile

Chile expected to be hot stuff

Chile cruised through World Cup qualifying, finishing second behind Brazil in the CONMEBOL region, and great things are expected from La Roja in South Africa, including an opening victory against CONCACAF's lowest placed qualifiers Honduras.

Argentina-born manager Marcelo Bielsa has been the architect behind Chile's dramatic upturn in fortunes. Since taking control in 2007, El Loco has transformed an underachieving team into an attacking force with self belief and he will be hoping to improve on his performance as manager of Argentina at World Cup 2002, when he failed to reach the knock-out stages.

In a group that also features relative minnows Switzerland, Chile are expected to qualify as runners-up behind European champions Spain, but they may have to notch their first result without star striker Humberto Suazo, who is unlikely to be risked for the clash with Honduras as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Suazo smashed in ten goals during qualification to finish as the region's top scorer.

Honduras, on the other hand, only pipped Costa Rica for CONCACAF's final automatic qualification place on goal difference and have struggled to find their form in the build-up to only their second World Cup appearance. Coach Reinaldo Rueda will be banned from the touchline after being sent off in their final qualifier and his side have not won a game since beating USA 3-1 in January 2010, losing to Turkey, Venezuela and then Romania in their final warm-up match.

Honduras player in focus: Carlos Pavon.
With Honduras expected to be on the back foot for much of the game it is vital that they have a release valve and Pavon will provide that. The striker has an exceptional aerial game to outjump his markers and can use his power to hold up the ball when it is pumped forwards. Strong, tall and lethal in the box, he will also provide a goal threat from set pieces.

Chile player in focus: Alexis Sanchez. This pacy Udinese forward has already established himself as a "wonderkid'" in his homeland and could do the same on a global stage. Sanchez is a player with great technique, who prefers to play in wide areas but can also get into the box and score goals, which is exactly what his national manager expects him to do. Playing in a front three allows him drift in and out of the box and find space in which to use his pace.

Key battle: Hendry Thomas v Matias Fernandez.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder Fernandez acts as playmaker-in-chief for Bielsa's side and will see plenty of the ball. Charged with supplying the decisive passes to Chile's attacking trio, there will be huge pressure on him to deliver. Wigan's defensive midfielder Thomas specializes in the breaking up of opposition attacks and will be expected to stifle Fernandez.

Trivia: Honduras were in Spain's group during their only previous appearance at the World Cup, in 1982, and held the hosts to a 1-1 draw. the odds of that happening again are 15.00.

Stats: With ten World Cup qualifying wins in this campaign, Chile had more victories than in their previous two attempts combined - three wins in 2002 and five wins in 2006.

Odds: Honduras (6.00), the draw (3.75), Chile (1.61) with Bet365. Chile are favourites to win this match but there could be value to be found in a 0-0 draw at 9.00.

Prediction: Honduras will undoubtedly set their stall out to frustrate Chile, but with Bielsa's team committed to attack, 2-0 seems a likely outcome.
The OffStump
Tigers Forever