Chile’s attempt at qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil didn’t exactly get off to the start they wanted as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of neighbours, Argentina in Buenos Aires on Friday night.
Argentina, led by Lionel Messi for the first time, were ruthless in front of their home fans and in the process exposed some Chilean defensive frailties that will be need to be rectified come future qualifiers. With Pablo Contreras missing through injury and Gary Medel absent through suspension, Claudio Borghi was forced to play Arturo Vidal in the centre of defence alongside Waldo Ponce and Gonzalo Jara in a notional back three. Vidal, who usually plays in the centre of midfield alongside Medel or Carlos Carmona, was left sadly exposed in the centre of defence against both Messi and an inform Gonzalo Higuain, who finished the night with a hat-trick. Not helping matters was a poor performance from the aforementioned Ponce.
In the attacking half of the pitch Borghi went with a front two of Humberto Suazo and Mauricio Pinilla with both Jorge Valdivia and Matías Fernández providing the creative spark in midfield. Sitting behind those two was holding midfielder Carlos Carmona with Mauricio Isla and Jean Beauseajour providing the attacking width. It was a very attacking line-up combined with a somewhat makeshift defence especially away from home and the Argentineans exposed it ruthlessly.
Argentina’s first goal courtesy of Gonzalo Higuain came in the seventh minute at the end of a rapid counter-attacking move after a poorly taken Chilean free-kick. In one foul swoop it gave the home side the confidence it so dearly craved and exposed Chile’s defensive frailties for all to see. Between the Argentina’s first and second goals, Chile controlled much of the play but could not create any clear cut chances in their attacking third and were made to pay as again Argentina hit them ruthlessly on the counter-attack as Lionel Messi broke his scoring drought for the national team in the 25th minute. From then to the half-time whistle it was the turn of the home side to control play although Humberto Suazo had a golden chance just before the half time break.
The match was pretty much put to bed not long after the half-time break as Chile were again caught out at the back although there was more than a hint of offside for Gonzalo Higuain’s second for the night in the 52nd minute. Seven minutes later the visitors pulled one back as Matías Fernández capitalised on an Argentinean defensive mix-up and give them some hope. However this was completely dashed four minutes later as Lionel Messi blocked a Claudio Bravo clearance with some evidence of the use of an arm before cleverly setting up Higuain for his second hat-trick of the week and to complete the scoring for the night.
After this first up result manager Claudio Borghi will have much to ponder before Tuesday night’s clash against Perú in front of their home fans.
Argentina 4-1 Chile