Chile are peppered with talent, but it is an Argentine who is the unlikely hero of their renaissance. Chile's national side was in a depressed state when Marcelo Bielsa took charge three years ago, with finishes of ninth and seventh respectively in the 10-team qualifying group for the previous two World Cups. Bielsa implemented a 3-3-1-3 formation and gradually moulded a dynamic, youthful team sprinkled with players from the Under-20 side that finished third at the 2007 World Cup.
The senior side qualified for their first World Cup since 1998 in second place, a point behind Brazil and five clear of Argentina, who they beat for the first time in a competitive fixture. Chile's game is based on winning the ball high up the pitch and keeping possession. At their best, they can be mesmerising. After the friendly victory over fellow World Cup qualifiers Slovakia in November, defeated coach Vladimir Weiss likened Bielsa's side to Barcelona, adding "They don't let you get near the ball."
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