South American champions Chile have promised to stay faithful to their adventurous approach which often threatens to blow their opponents away but also leaves their own defence dangerously exposed.
“Our gameplan is always to have the initiative, to take the leading role, have control and create openings,” coach Juan Antonio Pizzi told reporters after his side lost 1-0 to Germany in Sunday’s Confederations Cup final.
“Our commitment in the future is to continue doing the same.” Chile were once renowned as relative lightweights in South America but in the last few years have become one of the continent’s most inventive and versatile sides, with a readily identifiable whirlwind style of play.
They invariably press high and try to win possession deep in the opposition’s half and, when they have the ball, throw players forward in numbers in a manner which former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque once said was like “facing 11 kamikazes.”
Marcelo Bielsa, the eccentric Argentine coach who took them to the 2010 World Cup, began the transformation which was continued by Jorge Sampaoli who led them to their first major title, the Copa America in 2015, and by Pizzi.
Under Pizzi they also won last year’s Copa Centenario, a special tournament to celebrate the Copa America’s 100th anniversary. Despite their two titles, Chile often threaten to blow themselves out and recent results have been inconsistent.
They still have a fight on their hands to qualify for next year’s World Cup, currently lying fourth in the 10-team South American group where only the top four qualify directly. Pizzi admitted that poor finishing let them down in Russia.
“Converting your chances is one of the most difficult things to do in football, and when you take them, it completely changes the course of the game,” he said, adding that his team did not know how to play any other way.
“Our gameplan was what you saw from the start,” he said. “We like to play this way and we believe it gives us a better chance.
“Putting opponents under pressure near their goal is also a way of defending. We prefer this to sitting back and playing on the counter-attack.”
He said it had won them admiration from other teams. “It was remarkable how much respect we got from our opponents.”