- Chile defender Mauricio Isla spoke to FIFA.com before facing Portugal
- Only focusing on Cristiano Ronaldo “would be a huge risk”, he said
- When facing players like Ronaldo, he believes attack is the best form of defence
By Diego Zandrino with Chile
“Mauricio, how do you think Cristiano Ronaldo has prepared in order to get the better of you?”
“What a question!” exclaimed Chile’s Mauricio Isla, laughing at the query put to him by FIFA.com. “I don’t think Cristiano has prepared to get past me or any of our full-backs. Rather than me specifically, I imagine that he’s considered how to deal with the Chile team as a whole, just as we’ve thought about the Portuguese team and not just him on his own.”
As far as Isla is concerned, taking on the Portuguese in the last four of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 with any other type of mindset “would be a huge risk” because of the threat they pose all over the park. “They also have Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and Andre Gomes. I played with Bruno Alves and I know what a formidable defender he is. We’re wary of their entire team.”
Of course, if he does end up facing off with Ronaldo down the flank, the confident right-back plans to put into effect a tip passed on to him by Marcelo Bielsa. “The best way to defend against top forwards is to attack them. Without your full-back attacking an opposing forward, you run the risk of always being on the back foot,” he said.
First cap: 7/9/2007
All the more reason, then, for Isla not to remain tied down to his defensive role. “I’ll try as hard as I can to cause problems down the right-hand side when we’re attacking, and Jean Beausejour will do the same on the left,” said the Buin native. “At the end of the day, there is a mutual respect between the two teams.”
When he roams forward, he will do so without worrying too much about Portugal’s fearsome front line getting in behind him, due to the confidence he has in his team-mates. “It’s a question of trust,” he said. “If we lose the ball, Gary Medel, who I’ve played with for many years, will be covering behind me, and if not, Marcelo Diaz or another team-mate will step in. I trust them completely.”
— Selección Chilena (@LaRoja) 25 June 2017
Isla claims to not be suffering from nerves any more than usual ahead of the highly anticipated duel in Kazan. “But whether you’re playing in friendlies or in important matches, you’re always going to feel a little bit nervous,” explained the Cagliari player.
As for the mark that this current “golden generation” of players could make on Wednesday’s match, Isla is in no doubt. “It’ll be the same mark that we made when we beat other big teams like Argentina and Brazil,” he said. “We’re enjoying a wonderful period – we’ve achieved great things, and we want to keep bringing joy to our fans. And what better way to do that than against such a strong team like Portugal?”
Isla, with 93 caps for La Roja to his name, sits in joint fifth place on the all-time Chilean appearances list alongside Arturo Vidal and Jean Beausejour. Only Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Claudio Bravo and Alexis Sanchez have played more often for Chile.