THE Confederations Cup continues on Sunday and we asked international football analyst Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) for his thoughts on the Group B concluder between Chile and Australia.
Chile v Australia | Sunday 16:00 | ITV
Chile take on Australia on Sunday evening knowing a point will prove good enough to secure the South Americans a place in the Confederations Cup semi-finals following a 2-0 triumph over Cameroon and 1-1 draw with Germany.
Australia’s hopes of reaching the final-four are faint but the Socceroos can clinch a semi-final berth by beating the Chileans in Moscow by at least a two-goal margin. A tall order, indeed.
Red hot Chile
Chile are chalked up as 2/5 (BetStars) favourites to pocket maximum points here having performed admirably across their opening two fixtures. Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a strong and experienced squad to Russia with 11 players boasting more than 50 international caps.
Having tasted double Copa America glory in the past two summers, La Roja are keen to lift more silverware. Playing at the Confederations Cup is a big deal for the Chilean public – three national TV stations are screening the games live and one was broadcasting from Russia at 7am on the day of the Cameroon encounter.
La Roja dispatched the Africans in relatively routine fashion in the capital, restricting the Indomitable Lions to only one shot on-target. And Pizzi’s posse welcomed back Alexis Sanchez for their crunch contest with Germany on Thursday evening.
Sanchez made an immediate impact, notching within six minutes of the start to become his nation’s leading international goalscorer. As well as netting his 38th goal for his country, the Arsenal ace has now had a hand in 39 of 113 (34%) goals – scored 21, assisted 18 – in 62 competitive games for his nation.
Chile’s incessant energy and high-pressing caused the Germans many problems with Sanchez proving a constant threat for a La Roja side who really took the game to the World Cup winners and on another night they would have come away with a victory.
A combination of the woodwork and fine keeping denied the South American champions a second goal whilst they restricted Germany’s intentions to play out from the back with their famed suffocating press and comfortable possession game.
But the first occasion Joachim Low’s men managed to dodge the Chilean press, Germany scored, orchestrating a flowing passing move from the back which was clinically concluded by Jonas Hector’s low cross for Lars Stindl.
Nevertheless, Pizzi was pleased with his team’s performance and another hot showing is forecast for Sunday.
Tough task awaits Australia
Australia were beaten 3-2 by Germany in their curtain-raiser and although the final score suggests a tight encounter, in truth it was anything but. The Socceroos’ shaky backline was breached early on and although Ange Postecoglou’s troops displayed plenty of spirit, they were never realistically in contention.
Still, the Socceroos did manage five efforts on-target and squeezed in five shots from inside the Germany penalty box, highlighting their favoured expansive approach under in their unorthodox 3-2-4-1 system.
Defeat against Germany meant Australia suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since losing to Japan and Qatar in 2014 but the Asian champions picked up a point in a 1-1 draw with Cameroon in St Petersburg during midweek.
Having controlled possession and maintained a semblance of defensive solidity during a promising opening stanza, the Socceroos were undone by a Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa goal on the stroke of half-time.
Australia battled back following the break and skipper Mark Milligan converted a penalty in the 60th minute to bring the teams level but in truth, Postecoglou’s men failed to inspire. There was a lack of cohesion to the Australian attack, which was out-shot 19-5 by the Africans.
The Indomitable Lions’ rapid forward trio of Christian Bassogog, Vincent Aboubakar and Benjamin Moukandjo were a persistent threat, and although only three attempts landed on-target, they appeared the most likely to snatch a winner.
Youngster Alex Gersbach impressed down the Australian flanks but Mathew Leckie and Tomi Juric spurned glorious chances and after shining against Germany, Tom Rogic was largely anonymous.
The betting angles
That lack of edge in attack has to be of concern for Australia should their defence continue to perform below-par. The Socceroos have scored in 17 of their last 18 but have now recorded a solitary shutout in 10, and that came against UAE.
The underdogs have conceded at least twice in four of their last seven games – including two goals against the likes of Thailand and Saudi Arabia – so Chile should have no issue grabbing at least a couple of goals here.
Chile/Chile in the half-time/full-time market makes the most appeal at 21/20 (Ladbrokes). Australia have trailed at the interval in each of their past three fixtures and shipped first-half goals in seven of their last nine.
Chile v Australia – Chile/Chile (21/20 Ladbrokes)