Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile will be eager to start their World Cup campaign with a comfortable win and thus improve their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, but Australia will also see the match at Arena Pantanal as the game they have the best chance of winning out of all three group fixtures.
Arturo Vidal is doubtful
After impressing at the 2010 World Cup under Marcelo Bielsa, Chile endured some tough times, but that only lasted until Jorge Sampaoli took over the reigns in 2012. At the time, La Roja were in a difficult position having lost last three 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but they soon rediscovered their form and went on to win the third place in the South American Zone, just four points behind winners Argentina. Chile have since continued with impressive performances, defeating England, Costa Rica, Egypt and Northen Ireland, while suffering narrow defeats to Brazil and Germany, thus proving they are fully prepared for what awaits them at the World Cup. Arturo Vidal’s knee injury has been creating some problems of late, but Chile are not the sort of team that depend on a single player, no matter how good he is. Seeing as how La Roja are well accustomed to the difficult weather conditions in Cuiaba, their high-pressing game is likely to produce the expected result against pretty average Australia side, so do expect Jorge Sampaoli’s charges to win their opening fixture with relative ease.
Arturo Vidal is unlikely to start despite resuming full training, but he is expected to come on in the second period of the match.
Third straight World Cup for Australia
Australia probably wouldn’t have seen a lot of World Cup action if they hadn’t been allowed to move to Asian Zone of the World Cup qualifiers, but they did well to get the most of the opportunity, qualifying for the last three tournaments. And while they managed to reach the Last 16 stage back in 2006, the Socceroos crashed out in group stage at the 2010 tournament and it appears they won’t be able to do any better this time out. Australia were somewhat unfortunate to be pitted against Spain, Netherlands and Chile in Group B, although they aim to try and cause a couple of surprises at the tournament finals. However, with the current squad arguably the weakest in years, that looks like a mission impossible. While sharing spoils with South Africa, the Socceroos were beaten by Ecuador and Croatia in warm-up games, which is enough to suggest they lack the quality as well as experience to play at the highest level. And with key players Tim Cahill and Mark Bersciano not getting any younger, future does not look bright for Australia.
Mark Bresciano is carrying a back injury, but coach Ange Postecoglu may decide to risk him against Chile in an attempt to record the best possible result.
Chile have proved their worth at the biggest stage by finishing third in arguably the strongest zone of the World Cup qualifiers and they can be trusted to see off weak Australia in their opening match. The Socceroos are simply not good enough to play at this level, while the lack of experience is likely to prove a major issue as well.
Top pick: Home win 1.45 (9/20) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Chile/Chile 2.25 (5/4) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 2: Chile to win to nil 2.38 (11/8) @ Betfred