We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.
Last time there: 1998 (lost in second round)
Best performance: Semi-finals (1962)
This is a tough nut to crack.
On paper, Chile appears to have what it takes to contend in group play. They're going to play tough defense, and they'll put up a prideful effort.
However, there is a problem. Chile is known for lacking discipline at times, and they were given a hellaciously difficult group draw, stuck with perennial power Spain, emerging Switzerland, and a Honduras team that should be proven quite dangerous in this tournament.
FIFA ranks them in the middle of the World Cup pack, and it seems as if they can find a way out of this group. Or maybe not.
Captain Claudio Bravo is the goalkeeper. He's 27, so just entering his prime. If he plays his cards right, and Chile keeps contending out of South America, he could have two more Cups in him after this one. The key will be his play, coupled with the defensive play in front of him. Gary Medel owns the nickname "Pit Bull," and he will have to play like one in this tournament. A team short on size and stature will lean on him a lot.
Matias Fernandez is the key playmaker on offense, but this team's ability to finish is somewhat questionable. They need forward Humberto Suazo to score, and not stop at just once. If he's a factor offensively, Chile has a fair chance of advancing.
Chile are underdogs, undoubtedly, as is Honduras in this group. However, neither should be considered a pushover. The Chilean team has some creativity up front, will be tough from the goal out, and benefits from being one of the more overlooked South American sides.
June 16 vs. Honduras (Nelspruit)
June 21 vs. Switzerland (Port Elizabeth)
June 25 vs. Spain (Pretoria)