Chile and Colombia face each other in what is one of the most important fixtures in the CONMEBOL world cup qualifiers on Thursday evening.
Chile and Colombia are separated by only 1 point, with Colombia sitting in fourth place with 17 points and Chile at fifth with 16 points.
Colombia have lost just one in the qualifiers, and that has come against table leaders Brazil.
Chile defeated Peru 2-1 at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago in their last match, to move up to the fifth spot of the table after hovering in the bottom half in the early rounds
Both teams are fighting to hold on to their position, with the team finishing in fifth position in the CONMEBOL set to face a representative from the Oceania Confederation in a playoff match.
Team News and Tactics
The big news is that Alexis Sanchez, who picked up a muscle injury only yesterday, will definitely miss out on this tie and could also miss their match against Uruguay, with various reports claiming the forward will miss between 2-8 weeks. Chile’s medical team confirmed the injury on it’s official page, but did not mention the severity of the injury.
This means that Esteban Paredes will likely feature up front for the Chilean side should manager Juan Antonio Pizzi opt for experience, but he could also go for the youthful, energetic option of 23-year old Nicolas Castillo, who has 7 caps to his name.
Chile are playing away from home, and while a draw may satisfy them in those circumstances, powerhouses Argentina sit behind them at 6th place only on goal difference. So it is likely Pizzi will be looking to snatch a win against a Colombia side filled with attacking talent, using a counter-attacking strategy.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-3 ): Bravo; Isla, Roco, Medel, Mena; Aranguiz, Diaz, Vidal; Vargas, Orellana, Paredes
Radamel Falcao has been recalled to the Colombia squad for the first time in 388 days, after the striker’s sublime form this season. Colombia have no fresh injury worries, and will likely name the same side that drew to Uruguay, with the addition of Falcao.
Colombia are playing at home and will look to put more distance between themselves, Chile and Argentina. This represents a good opportunity for José Pékerman’s side to gain 3 valuable points, especially now that Alexis Sanchez is a definite absentee for Chile.
They’ll look to attack and put pressure on a Chile side that will be wary of the attacking talent at their disposal – with Jamez Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Carlos Bacca all huge threats on their day.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Ospina, Arias, Mina, Murillo, Diaz, Sanchez, Torres, Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Falcao, Bacca
- Colombia are undefeated in 7 of their last 10 matches
- Chile have scored 18 goals and conceded 16 goals so far
- The last head to head match between the two teams was in June when Chile won on the night, with an impressive away victory
- The Colombian side have yet to beat Chile in their last 4 home games, with their record standing at 2 draws and 2 losses
Player to Watch: Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao has been reborn at Monaco under Leonardo Jardim. The forward had two very forgettable spells at Manchester United and Chelsea, but looks nothing like the player he was at the English sides.
Falcao has already scored 8 goals in 10 appearances with the French side, and has shown that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
Falcao has not featured for the Colombia side for 388 days, and will be fired up to show them just what they have been missing, especially in front of his own fans.
With James and Cuadrado providing the kind of service he thrives on, Falcao is a favourite to make a scoring return against Chile.
Prediction: Colombia 1-1 Chile
Chile will likely be a lot more conservative given the absence of star man Alexis Sanchez, but will still be looking to counter using the pace of Eduardo Vargas.
Colombia have also been performing well and will go into this game full of confidence, but the recent head to head record between the two likely means that José Pékerman will adopt a more conservative game-plan.
Chile will also definitely be more conservative, given they are playing away from home, but a scoring draw looks the most likely result here.