Chile will bank on un­set­tled Sanchez

Trans­fer talk may get best out of him, coach hopes

The National - News - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Copa Amer­ica cham­pi­ons Chile will try to curb Por­tu­gal’s Cris­tiano Ron­aldo in Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup semi-fi­nal with the goal-ace in rich form de­spite a tax storm brew­ing in Spain. The Real Madrid for­ward, 32, con­verted a penalty in Satur­day’s 4-0 thrash­ing of New Zealand to claim his 75th in­ter­na­tional goal. Ron­aldo has now scored 16 times in his past 10 games for club and coun­try.

The Por­tu­gal cap­tain will face tax eva­sion charges in a Madrid court next month, but has daz­zled on the pitch in Rus­sia, claim­ing man-ofthe-match awards in all three group games, net­ting two goals and pro­vid­ing an as­sist.

“We all know he’s an amaz­ing player, he’s very dan­ger­ous and can de­cide a game alone,” said Chile mid­fielder Marcelo Diaz, who has come up against Ron­aldo with his Span­ish club Celta Vigo.

“He has had an amaz­ing sea­son in Spain, he’s play­ing here with the same strength, which is why Por­tu­gal are in the semi-fi­nal. The main thing is try­ing to stop him get­ting the ball and scor­ing.”

Chile are yet to beat Por­tu­gal in three at­tempts with two de­feats and a draw. Coach Juan An­to­nio Pizzi has all 23 play­ers fit af­ter mid­fielder Charles Aran­guiz re­cov­ered from a knock in Sun­day’s 1-1 draw against Aus­tralia.

De­spite doubts about Alexis Sanchez’s Ar­se­nal fu­ture, the Chile camp says their star striker is in high spir­its. They hope his good per­for­mances will show­case his skills to po­ten­tial fu­ture em­ploy­ers.

With a year left on his con­tract, Sanchez is stalling on sign­ing an ex­ten­sion amid ru­mours of a switch to Ger­man gi­ants Bay­ern Mu­nich.

“He’s giv­ing his best here and I think most play­ers would like to be in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, be­cause the best squads in the world want to have him, even if he is al­ready at a good club,” Pizzi said.

“He’s a re­spon­si­ble per­son. He knows what he has to do and is fully fo­cused on Chile.”

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