INTERNATIONAL football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his verdict on Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier from Santiago.
Chile v Uruguay | Tuesday 23:30
Arsene Wenger has warned Chile against making a “suicidal decision” by playing Alexis Sanchez in Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay but La Roja look set to ignore the Arsenal boss as they go in search of a much-need victory.
Chile held Colombia to a goalless draw in Barranquilla last week, a result described as a “priceless point” by Arturo Vidal. The Bayern Munich man was stretchered off in the final minute of the match but has vowed to play through the pain barrier here too.
La Roja currently reside in fifth – the playoff position – and know they must start to pick up positive results to sneak into the top-four automatic qualifying positions. Head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was chuffed with the stalemate in Colombia but knows more is required from his battle-weary squad.
The 0-0 in Barranquilla was their first shutout in 10 away World Cup qualifiers with Claudio Bravo having a big hand in keeping the game scoreless, making two key first-half saves before going off injured. His involvement remains doubtful with Charles Aranguiz also struggling for full fitness.
La Roja have struggled since lifting their second successive Copa America in the space of two summers. Chile were winless since taking the title in June before stuttering to victory over Peru and the hosts have W2-D3-L4 across their last nine qualifiers when counting the Bolivia game as a draw (they were awarded a 3-0 win because of an ineligible Bolivian player).
But back in Santiago, Pizzi’s charges will be expected to bag a result. Chile have W9-D1-L3 in World Cup qualifiers since 2011, scoring at least twice on nine occasions.
Uruguay's away-day woe
With Uruguay’s only positive results on the road since September 2009 coming at Ecuador Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru (W4-D6-L9) the stats suggest the hosts will get something out of this encounter.
Second-placed Uruguay have opened a five point gap over third-placed Colombia after Thursday's hard-earned victory against Ecuador; Sebastian Coates and Diego Rolan grabbed the goals to maintain their perfect Montevideo record (W6-D0-L0).
Boss Oscar Tabarez wasn’t impressed by his team’s performance but appreciated the fact La Celeste came out on top despite not playing well. Again, set-pieces were pivotal with Carlos Sanchez’s delivery causing opposing defences plenty of headaches.
Take a goals approach
Uruguay have now scored nine (39%) of their 23-goal tally from dead-ball situations and they’ll be looking to adopt a similar rugged approach in Santiago. The visitors have only fired a blank once in their five away days en-route to Russia and notched twice in Colombia and Brazil so grabbing a crucial away goal looks well within their range.
Considering Chile have scored in 18 of their last 19, we should look towards the goal markets here and the 10/11 (William Hill) on Both Teams To Score looks more than fair. It’s banked in seven of La Roja’s last 11 in Santiago and four of Uruguay’s past six away qualifiers.
Chile v Uruguay – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)