Barca record-breakers to QPR flops: Chile players blow hot and cold
Captivating Chile won the hearts of many neutrals at the World Cup (and are 50/1 to win Russia 2018), memorably smashing holders Spain in front of their fiery and fervent support, before crashing out after a tense spot-kick competition with hosts Brazil.
A number of the South American outfits’ top stars have since earned lucrative summer switches, so Coral writers decided to keep an eye on the influx of Chile talents.
The irrepressible Arturo Vidal may have missed out on a move to Manchester United, but has returned to form for Serie A giants Juventus. Meanwhile, whilst many of his compatriots have flourished, some fellow countrymen have not yet fared as well.
Bravo was the recipient of much applause during the World Cup, and has kept up his sensational performances between the sticks for Spanish giants Barcelona. Brilliant Bravo recently broke former Catalan keeper Pedro Maria Artola’s club clean sheet record, and has currently played 630 minutes (and counting) without conceding.
After shutting out opponents for seven La Liga games so far, the 31-year-old has utilised his experience to keep starlet stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen confined to just Champions League appearances.
The rampant wing back was a key component in Chile’s successful counter-attacking football in Brazil, but took a bold step in swapping the Juventus bench for newly-promoted QPR.
Harry Redknapp’s recent switch to a flat back four left the loan star twiddling his fingers on the sidelines in the Hoops’ last clash, as the coach attempted to stop his side haemorrhaging any more goals.
Isla has struggled to adapt, stating: “I think it’s been difficult for me because coming to the Premier league after playing for seven years in Italy is difficult to change because the pace is heavier here.”
The talented 26-year-old must learn quickly if he is to avoid slipping down the pecking order.
Medel finally made his transfer from Cardiff City to Inter Milan after a long summer wrangle, but the switch has appeared to pay off for the ‘Pitbull’, despite the Nerazurri’s mixed results.
Lauded by fans and clubmates alike, Medel, who is deployed as a ball-playing centre back for Chile, has lived up to his tag as a magnificent midfield enforcer. His solid presence and incredible work ethic has allowed the likes of Mateo Kovacic to concentrate solely on attack, and seen him slip seamlessly into Walter Mazzarri’s side.
Arsenal’s most exciting acquisition of the summer needs no introduction, but Sanchez still has much to do to pay off his price. Simply scintillating for Chile in Brazil, the Gunners’ attack has looked much sharper and faster since the 25-year-old arrived.
However, Sanchez looks to have been stunted by Arsene Wenger’s rotation and substitutions, often starting key clashes from the bench. It is clear that Chile’s biggest talent and talisman is still yet to earn his coach’s full trust.
Five goals in 11 appearances in all competitions, and promising link-up play with his clubmates suggest the former Barca boy is not doing too badly, but he is yet to truly set the Premier League stage alight.
It appeared to be a mystery why Rafa Benitez and Napoli could not make space for the energetic and hard-working Vargas in their squad. He brings pace and threat as Sanchez’s foil up front for Chile but, without his prolific partner, the ex-Valencia attacker has struggled to settle at QPR.
Despite showing glimpses of his talent, the forward has failed to net in four Premier League appearances so far, spurning an opportunity against Manchester United on his debut. It is still early days for the Santiago-born striker, though, and once he grows in confidence, Vargas may yet help save the Hoops’ season.