“The idea is to be the protagonist of the World Cup. Chile will not negotiate its style. If the team stays waiting, the rivals will be inaccessible. There is no chance that Chile will get the reigns of the match against Spain, we will have to equal the ball possession. Against the Netherlands we have to neutralize the transition because its a very vertical team. Whereas Australia stands out for its defensive style, where we will have to overcome several players’ barriers behind the line. There is no place for us to change our style. “
Chilean national team manager Jorge Sampaoli announced his team for the world cup naming only one recognized central defender in the entire squad. You may call that psychotic, but that is the manner in which Sampaoli has built his very aggressive and attack minded team. Jorge Sampaoli is one of the many believers of the idiosyncratic Marcelo Bielsa. “I think that Marcelo is among the leading coaches in the history of world football. So, making comparisons or thinking that someone is similar is unfair, because he’s above all or at least the majority of coaches. I’m very thankful for having been able to hear Bielsa speak loads of times and for having learned so many things from him” He calls himself Bielsa’s disciple, and like his master, is one of the most obsessive coaches with an unhealthy fixation to focus on the littlest of detail. Football expert Gabriele Marcotti wrote in an article for The Times “Sampaoli is at the training ground by half past 8 and doesn’t leave before 9 at night. And, when he does go home, he sits in bed watching (football) DVDs and doing video analysis on his computer”
Sampaoli is a firm believer in his style and whether home, away, against the worst or best teams in the world wouldn’t alter his attack minded approach. Like his mentor, Sampaoli has set up a very exciting team which plays an exhilarating brand of football – their high and aggressive pressing, movements and positioning, verticality and overlapping fullbacks often catching the eye. He accredited Bielsa for introducing the attacking style of play which made his work easier for him. “It was easier for me because I’ve been following Bielsa since the ’90s, so it’s easier to get the ideas across of a coach whose way of expressing himself and whose feeling for football you identity with.” Here is an in-depth analysis of Sampaoli’s philosophy
Chile often employ a 3-4-1-2 formation which has it’s many interpretations throughout the game, the 4312, 352 and 3232 formations are also often used. Sampaoli uses a three man defense when he comes up against two forwards, he says he always wants an extra man in defense. Against a lone striker, La Roja normally deploy two centerbacks in a back four. The 54 year old stations pacy wide forwards in attack with a highly technical player playing the false9 role. In this system, Sanchez and Vargas attack the channels while the fullbacks provide width, allowing space in the middle for Valdivia.
Without the ball, Chile are one of the most agressive sides at the World Cup due to their intense pressing to regain possession. Jorge Sampaoli instructs his team to press in a high block blocking passing lanes for opponents.Their aggresive pressing isn’t just to regain possession for circulation. Chile press as a form of attack. Pressing high up the pitch gives you a better chance of scoring because you’re closer to goal if you win possession, rather than having to construct a move from the back. The image below is Chile doing exactly that. After pinching the ball of the Germans, La Roja attack 4v4 and manipulated a shot on goal through VidalChile press in a fluid system and have many pressing triggers. For example when the ball is played to a player facing his own goal.Or when the opposition get the ball near the touchline. They compress space using the touchline as an extra defender to further reduce their space.
Chile’s movement is so unique that they often take up a number over different positions/systems over the course of a game. Sampaoli is a big fan of playing out the back. La Roja circulate possession in their own half to find gaps before switching to a very quick and vertical approach as they enter the opposition area. In the back three, Gary Medel – a midfielder by default – is often the deepest player. In the 442diamond/4312shape Diaz is the deepest of Chile’s midfielders and is key to Chile’s construction phase.The midfielder normally drops into the defense as the center halves spread apart to form a three man backline which prompts the vertical movement of Chile’s very attacking fullbacks.
The threat of Chile’s attacking fullbacks creates space for forwards Alexis and Vargas in the channels. Isla and Mena’s overlapping runs normally occupy opposition fullbacks which gives room to the wide forwards to move into more central zones.In midfield Chile boast arguably the most complete and best midfielder in the game right now in Arturo Vidal. He is without a doubt the heart of this side. Him and Aranguiz Chile’s box-to-box midfielders also make a lot of forward runs which also creates space for Chile’s forwards. The photo below is the lead up to Sanchez’s goal in which the Barcelona forward darts in between Australia’s centerback and fullback who is focused on the overlapping Aranguiz.Valdivia, the classic number 10 is also one of Chile’s key players. After a prolonged ban, Valdivia has found his way back into the Chilean XI and plays a huge role in the side – keep the midfield ticking and to serve as a creative hub linking the midfield and attack. Chile’s play is fixated on the creation of wide and central overloading of an area. Chile keep a close distance between each other in offense, giving more numbers and depth for their attacking philosophy. Valdivia is critical in such situations coming into the center of the hoop and creating angles for teammates.Sanchez, normally stationed on the right flank is one of Chile’s main playmakers in offense. At Barcelona, Sanchez is deployed as a wide outlet whose main duty is to provide width in attack, but for the national team he drifts inside more from the right flank into central zones. In his last three games for the national team, he’s provided six assists, three of which came against Egypt. La Roja play the game in the opposition half as much as possible. The defenders position themselves on the halfway line as the forwards and midfielders make a lot of vertical movement into the opposition area overloading the space between the linesChile are definitely among the most interesting teams to watch this summer due to their aesthetically pleasing attacking philosophy, which has it’s defects from a defensive POV though. The Chileans conceded the most goals of all the teams in Brazil. Their offside trap has failed them in the past, most recently in their game against Egypt who benefit twice from the high positioning of Chile’s defensive block.
Their lack of height in defense also affects them when defending crosses. Nevertheless, Sampaoli’s attacking philosophy and the quality spread in the team makes Chile a must watch at this year’s world cup.