Must-win for Chile in

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

face a must-win show­down with fierce re­gional ri­vals Peru to­day as the South Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons aim to make up lost ground af­ter a stum­bling start to their 2018 World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign.

Af­ter a 3-0 thrash­ing by Ecuador in Quito on Thurs­day, the Chileans limped back to San­ti­ago a full five points adrift of the qual­i­fy­ing places in South Amer­ica’s marathon bat­tle for World Cup berths.

Chile, the dom­i­nant force in South Amer­ica over the past two years with back-to-back wins in the 2015 and 2016 Copa Amer­i­cas, still have plenty of time to turn their cam­paign around with nine games left.

But any­thing less than a win against Peru to­day risks leav­ing them with a moun­tain to climb if they are to qual­ify for a third con­sec­u­tive World Cup.

“We need to score goals, and we need to win be­cause we’re play­ing at home. Win­ning is the only op­tion for us now,” said Chile mid­fielder Marcelo Diaz, who is still smart­ing from last week’s drub­bing by Ecuador.

“We lost, we were very bad, played a lousy game and that’s all I can say,” Diaz said. “All we can do now is look to Tues­day to try and change the story of what we are do­ing,” the Celta Vigo player added.

Veteran de­fender Gon­zalo Jara ad­mit­ted the team was baf­fled by its fail­ure to take more than one point from its last three games, a scrappy 0-0 home draw against Bo­livia, one of the weak­est teams in the qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

“We’ve not be­ing play­ing well as a col­lec­tive. We just aren’t cre­at­ing the chances that we nor­mally do,” Jara said.

The only up­side for Chile is that Peru, who have not won in San­ti­ago since 1985, have barely per­formed any bet­ter.

The Peru­vians, who held Ar­gentina to a 2-2 draw in Lima on Thurs­day, are in eighth place af­ter nine games, three points be­hind Chile.

The high stakes na­ture of to­day’s meet­ing adds fuel to the “Cla­sico del Pa­cific” one of South Amer­ica’s most po­tent foot­balling ri­val­ries, with the An­dean neigh­bours hav­ing a long his­tor­i­cal en­mity that dates back to the 1879-1883 War of the Pa­cific.

Foot­ball has of­ten been a bone of con­tention, with dif­fer­ences of opin­ion re­main­ing to this day over which coun­try was re­spon­si­ble for the in­ven­tion of the bi­cy­cle kick.

Chileans in­sist they in­vented it in a 1914 match, chris­ten­ing the over­head vol­ley as “La Chilena.” Peru­vians main­tain it was fact first at­tempted in the port city of Cal­lao in the late 1800s, be­ing given the name, “La Cha­laca.”

Else­where to­day, Brazil will aim to main­tain their sparkling form un­der new coach Tite, still buoy­ant af­ter a 5-0 drub­bing of Bo­livia last week that has left com­men­ta­tors breath­lessly talk­ing about a re­nais­sance of “jogo bonito” (“the beau­ti­ful game”).

Brazil travel to win­less Venezuela and on form should have no prob­lem pick­ing up another three points to keep the pres­sure firmly on group lead­ers Uruguay, who face an awk­ward away game against fourth placed Colom­bia.

“Our at­tack was very fluid, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. It was a great per­for­mance and we must try and con­tinue on this path, and keep im­prov­ing in every game,” said Brazil’s Filipe Luis, one of the goalscor­ers in the de­feat of Bo­livia.

Ar­gentina mean­while will aim to get back to win­ning ways af­ter be­ing held to a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive draw in Thurs­day’s 2-2 bat­tle with Peru. The Ar­gen­tini­ans, who will be with­out in­jured cap­tain Lionel Messi once more, host Paraguay in Cor­doba. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.