Group B’s second clash of the first match day brings Chile and Australia to the party at the Arena Pantenal in Cuiaba. Both teams are unlikely to make it past the group stages, although both boast of exciting, adventurous squads. Chilean coach Jorge Sampaoli will look to follow in the footsteps of previous coach Marcelo Bielsa whereas new Australian coach Ange Postecoglou has perhaps been resigned into submission and will hope his players play without any fear.
Chile’s setup will be tough to call as in Sampaoli, they have a good tactician who loves making his teams play to suit the conditions and the opponents. He mostly favours a three-man defence but Australia’s lack of attacking firepower means that he could change to a back four with the two full-backs acting as flying wing-backs. Mauricio Isla and Eugenio Mena will probably be the starting full-backs with the Wigan’s defensively suspect Jean Beausejour not an option in a four-man defence. Arturo Vidal is not fully fit, but will nevertheless be expected to start in an advanced role. Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas make for a tricky duo upfront, and could cause lot of troubles for an inexperienced Aussie backline.
Australia will go for their predictable and personnel-friendly 4-2-3-1, with a double pivot for added protection. Coach Postecoglou is adventurous by nature, so will hope that the Miles Jedinak–Mark Milligan duo can cover adequately for the defensive shortcomings. Tim Cahill is more of a second striker than a target man, and his movement isn’t extraordinary to cause much trouble, although his aerial prowess is a threat. Tommy Oar and Matthew Leckie provide the pace upfront, alongside the experienced Marco Bresciano who will look to pull strings. The defence looks rusty and could be caught out on more than one occasion.
Tim Cahill in the aerial battles
Chile are one of the shortest squads in the World Cup, and although Tim Cahill himself isn’t a beanpole either, he could take good advantage of his greatest asset. His timing of the jumps and the power he generates in his headers almost always make him a threat, and Australia will look to exploit one clear chink in Chile’s armour. Hot conditions mean Chile will always be on favourable grounds, and Australia will need to make use of Cahill’s head whenever and whichever way possible.
A half-fit Arturo Vidal v the experienced Miles Jedinak
Vidal normally plays deep for his club Juventus from where he makes those late damaging runs into the penalty box. His knee injury will surely mean that he will start further upfield and captain Jedinak could be the man tasked with stopping the mercurial Vidal. Jedinak is on the back of a stunning season with Crystal Palace in the Premier League, and his experience could come in handy. A good battle looks set on the cards.
Chile’s greater attacking thrust and Australia’s difficulty with the Brazilian heat could decide where the match could be headed. But Chile are also known for their wastefulness, as Australia are known for their doggedness. A 0-0 draw isn’t out of question, but a score draw like a 2-2 isn’t totally out of question, given Chile’s lack of concentration at times.