Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal has told his team-mates that they must focus on bettering the Netherlands before they can start thinking about a South American glamour clash with FIFA World Cup™ hosts Brazil.
Chile dumped holders Spain out of the tournament with a stunning 2-0 win in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday and can now secure top spot in Group B by winning their final group game against the Dutch in Sao Paulo on Monday.
A draw would leave Chile in second place in the group, potentially teeing up a last 16 date with South American rivals Brazil, but Vidal says that his side cannot afford to look too far ahead. "We just want to play against the best teams," the Juventus midfielder told reporters after the victory over Spain at the Maracana.
"The Netherlands are a strong team who have won their two matches, but we hope, like today (Wednesday), to get the three points. It's a World Cup. You can come up against anyone. The important thing is to keep playing well and if we can do that, we can go very far."
We just want to play against the best teams.
Playmaker Jorge Valdivia echoed his team-mate's words, saying: "Now we need to think about the Netherlands before worrying about Brazil, Mexico or whoever it may be."
Vidal is playing through the pain for his country after undergoing knee surgery last month and coach Jorge Sampaoli praised him for a "very intensive performance" against Spain.
Having played for 60 minutes in the opening 3-1 win over Australia, the 27-year-old made it until the 88th minute against Spain before hobbling off, but he downplayed concerns about the condition of his knee. "It's OK," he said. "I was limping when I went off, but I was just happy that we won."
Sampaoli has transformed Chile's fortunes since succeeding Claudio Borghi in December 2012, overseeing a run of five wins in six matches in qualifying that secured the team's place in Brazil. He is an avowed disciple of his fellow Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, who was Borghi's predecessor, with an emphasis on tactical flexibility, aggressive pressing, and a fast-paced passing style.
However, while Bielsa's four-year tenure at the helm laid the groundwork for Sampaoli's achievements with Chile, Vidal believes that the credit for the team's recent form is all due to the current coach. Asked if Sampaoli had built on Bielsa's model, he replied: "No, that process is finished. This is Sampaoli's. He has applied his style and it is working very well."
Before the tournament, Sampaoli asserted that Chile were "contenders" and midfielder Marcelo Diaz feels that the performance against Spain proves that his side are capable of making a deep impression in Brazil. "It was what we had hoped to do. We did it and now we are in the last 16," said Diaz, who plays for Swiss club Basel.
"Spain are a great team with great players, but we just focused on achieving what we wanted to achieve. We have the players and the hope that we can go far. With the players they have it is a shame Spain are out, but the Netherlands and Chile are through instead. We have a lot of really good players. We will see how far we can go."