Chile to per­sist with ‘kamikaze’ style

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

ST PETERS­BURG: South Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons Chile have promised to stay faith­ful to their ad­ven­tur­ous ap­proach which of­ten threat­ens to blow their op­po­nents away but also leaves their own de­fence dan­ger­ously ex­posed.

“Our game­plan is al­ways to have the ini­tia­tive, to take the lead­ing role, have con­trol and cre­ate open­ings,” coach Juan An­to­nio Pizzi, pic­tured, told re­porters af­ter his side lost 1-0 to Ger­many in Sun­day’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup fi­nal.

“Our com­mit­ment in the fu­ture is to con­tinue do­ing the same.”

Chile were once renowned as rel­a­tive lightweights in South Amer­ica but in the last few years have be­come one of the con­ti­nent’s most in­ven­tive and ver­sa­tile sides, with a read­ily iden­ti­fi­able whirl­wind style of play.

They in­vari­ably press high and try to win pos­ses­sion deep in the op­po­si­tion’s half and, when they have the ball, throw play­ers for­ward in num­bers in a man­ner which for­mer Spain coach Vi­cente del Bosque once said was like “fac­ing 11 kamikazes.”

Marcelo Bielsa, the ec­cen­tric Ar­gen­tine coach who took them to the 2010 World Cup, be­gan the trans­for­ma­tion which was continued by Jorge Sam­paoli who led them to their first ma­jor ti­tle, the Copa Amer­ica in 2015, and by Pizzi. Un­der Pizzi they also won last year’s Copa Cen­te­nario, a spe­cial tour­na­ment to cel­e­brate the Copa Amer­ica’s 100th an­niver­sary. De­spite their two ti­tles, Chile of­ten threaten to blow them­selves out and re­cent re­sults have been in­con­sis­tent. They still have to fight to qual­ify for next year’s World Cup, cur­rently ly­ing fourth in the 10-team South Amer­i­can group where only the top four qual­ify di­rectly.

Pizzi ad­mit­ted that poor fin­ish­ing let them down in Russia: “Con­vert­ing your chances is one of the most dif­fi­cult things to do in foot­ball, and when you take them, it com­pletely changes the course of the game,” he said, adding that his team did not know how to play any other way.

“We like to play this way and we be­lieve it gives us a bet­ter chance.

“Putting op­po­nents un­der pres­sure near their goal is also a way of de­fend­ing. It was re­mark­able how much re­spect we got from our op­po­nents.” – Reuters

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