After finishing in last spot in the South American Zone qualifying standings ahead of Germany 2006, Chile completed a remarkable turnaround by claiming second place – just one point behind Brazil – on the road to South Africa 2010, having secured their passage with a game to spare. Their previous best qualifying performance in the current format came prior to France 1998, when La Roja finished fourth.
FIFA World Cup finals history
With eight FIFA World Cups™ under their belts, Chile are level with Paraguay in fourth place on the list of South American nations that have appeared at most editions of the showpiece event. Their best performance to date came when finishing third as host nation in 1962. On five other occasions they have failed to progress from the group phase, while at France 1998 and South Africa 2010 they reached the Round of 16, only to exit at the hands of Brazil on both occasions.
The current crop
On the back of Marcelo Bielsa’s impressive era at the helm, Chile once again entrusted their head coach’s position to an Argentinian. Claudio Borghi, who took the reins in February 2011, has an in-depth knowledge of the Chilean game having enjoyed success as a player and coach in the country – particularly at Colo Colo. El Bichi’s squad selections differed little from those of his predecessor, though he sought a playing style based more on possession football than El Loco Bielsa's full-throttle approach. The team’s stylish performance at the 2011 Copa America received many plaudits, although they went out surprisingly early to Venezuela in the quarter-finals. However, after a run of defeats Borghi was dismissed in November 2012. Argentinean coach Jorge Sampaoli was appointed as his replacement, and La Roja are among the favourites to find their way to Brazil 2014.
The key players
Forwards Alexis Sanchez and Humberto Suazo, as well as attacking midfielder Matias Fernandez, are the leading men in a squad packed with talent and boasting viable alternatives in each position. Nor must we forget experienced performers such as Claudio Bravo, Pablo Contreras and Jorge Valdivia, or exciting rising stars like Jean Beausejour and Carlos Carmona.
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Chile 1962 (Third place), FIFA U-17 World Cup Japan 1993 (Third place), FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 (Third place), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000 (Third place)
Former stars: Elias Figueroa, Ivan Zamorano, Marcelo Salas