Chile penpix of likely squad for World Cup finals
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's squad for the World Cup finals is likely to comprise the following 23 players:
Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad) Age 31; 78 caps. Captain since 2008 and a regular in the team, he can become Chile's most capped player at the finals, currently holding six less than Leonel Sanchez (84). After three years at Colo Colo, he was transferred to Real Sociedad in 2006, and became a symbol of the team.
Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile) Age 33; 8 caps. Charismatic and controversial, a tall and strong player who was arrested in 2009 after a car accident in which he killed a 22-year-old student. The prosecution is still after him and he could miss the finals because of another driving offence.
Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica) Age 25; 5 caps. Spent his whole career at Universidad Catolica and suffered a serious knee injury in 2009 playing for the national youth team. Seven months later he was on the pitch again and in the last few years has become one of the best keepers in Chile.
Marcos Gonzalez (Unattached) Age 34; 29 caps. Born in Brazil, Gonzalez moved to Chile with his family when he was two years old. A tactical player, he played more than a year for Brazil's Flamengo but is now training at the Chilean federation camp as a free agent, something that worries the coach. In 2011, he was capped after a seven-year gap. Has since become a regular with 14 appearances in the World Cup qualifiers.
Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest) Age 28; 63 caps. Central defender who can also play at right back with attacking skills and vision to anticipate rival forwards. Was one of the players involved in the "Bautizazo" (Baptism Affair) in 2011 when they arrived at a Chile practice reportedly drunk after a baptism party for Jorge Valdivia's son and was suspended for 10 matches.
Eugenio Mena (Santos) Age 25; 21 caps. His career took off when he was transferred from Santiago Wanderers to Universidad de Chile where he met Jorge Sampaoli in 2011 and became a regular in the team thanks to his good performances and physical strength. The coach considers him a key piece in his jigsaw.
Mauricio Isla (Juventus) Age 26; 44 caps. Mainly a right back but can also play as a right winger or holding midfielder. Started as a centre midfielder under former Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, but Sampaoli moved him to the defense and he now is irreplaceable at right back. Moved to Italy in 2007 and played for Udinese until 2012, when Juventus paid almost 10 million euros for him. He is a regular at Juventus.
Gary Medel (Cardiff City) Age 26; 60 caps. "The Pitbull" is one of Chile's best known players. Born in a slum and in an interview said football prevented him from becoming a criminal. His tireless style became his trademark. A defender or central midfielder, he was Chile captain in Bravo's absence.
Carlos Carmona (Atalanta) Age 27; 42 caps. Centre midfielder who was also involved in the Baptism Affair in 2011. A clever player who can both steal the ball and deliver it to his team mates, he brings balance to the team, something vital as Chile has a very attacking style.
Marcelo Diaz (Basel) Age 27; 19 caps. "Cara de Pato" (Duck Face) Diaz was a right back until Sampaoli became coach of Universidad de Chile and moved him to the central midfield position. Since 2011 he has became an essential player for the national team and a regular in Sampaoli's diagram. His passing and ball control skills also earned him the nickname "South American Xavi".
Francisco Silva (Osasuna) Age 28; 11 caps. Defensive midfielder who can also play at full back. His debut for Chilean side Universidad Catolica came after Gary Medel was transferred to Boca Juniors in 2008. Has a physical game and his classic long range efforts can be an attacking option for Chile.
Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras) Age 30; 52 caps. Known as "El Mago" (The Magician), he is a first class player whose career has been plagued with ups and downs because of injuries and a lack of discipline that kept him out of the national team twice. Last time it took him more than a year to get back. One of Sampaoli's favorite players, the Argentine was behind his comeback to "La Roja" (The Red).
Charles Aranguiz (Internacional) Age 25; 20 caps. A skilful and very tactical holding midfielder who can play in the middle or on the right. Able to block and distribute the ball with the same precision, he is a vigorous player who likes attacking and scores on occasion.
Arturo Vidal (Juventus) Age 27; 53 caps. "El Rey Arturo" (King Arthur) is one of the world's best midfielders. After three years at Colo Colo, he embarked on a rising career in Europe, first with Bayer Leverkusen and now Juventus. Has defensive skills, is a good header, lays on goals and has scored eight for Chile. On home visits he usually enjoys his other passion: the racetrack. He owns more than 15 horses.
Felipe Gutierrez (Twente Enschede) Age 23; 15 caps. An attacking midfielder with one goal in internationals, he enjoys playing near the box but can also take a defensive role. In his time at Twente he has developed his tactical skills and was a starter when Germany beat Chile in March, playing alongside Charles Aranguiz, leaving Arturo Vidal as playmaker.
Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina) Age 28; 60 caps. Born in Buenos Aires to a Chilean father and Argentine mother, he moved to Chile when he was four. "Matigol" is an attacking midfielder, a free kick specialist whose dribbling is a trademark and has scored 14 goals for Chile, He was a starter under former coach Claudio Borghi, but with Sampaoli has been on the bench.
Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo) Age 29; 23 caps. Played for three years for Universidad Catolica, then retired because he wanted to graduate as a commercial engineer, but six months later decided to resume his football career with a comeback in 2008 at Colo Colo, Chile's most popular club, where he is one of their leading players.
Eduardo Vargas (Valencia) Age 24; 30 caps. "Edu" Vargas enchanted Chileans during his spell at Universidad de Chile in 2010-11 when they won two domestic league titles and the Copa Sudamericana (South American version of the Europa League) with Sampaoli as coach. Was then transferred to Napoli where he never settled and was loaned to Brazil's Gremio and Valencia, where he now plays. A nightmare in the box, he is fast and can also play as a right winger.
Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) Age 26; 65 caps. A fundamental part of the Chile team, his spicy dribbling is a constant danger to rival defenders. He gives Chile an enviable power of goals and explosive attack. "El Nino Maravilla" (Wonder Boy) has curbed his diving for which he was heavily criticized. Scored a double at Wembley in November and leapfrogged fellow forward Humberto Suazo into fifth place in the list of all time top-scorers for Chile with 22 goals, 15 short of Marcelo Salas.
Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari) Age 30; 24 caps. Has become a globetrotter playing for clubs in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scotland and Cyprus. Could be the centre forward at the finals rivaling Valdivia for the position but if Valdivia is fit, he will start on the bench. A string of injuries has prevented him from earning many more caps.
Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic) Age 30; 58 caps. Can play as a midfielder and winger and has even played at left back. In 2011 he was dropped because of his involvement in the "Baptism Affair". At the 2010 finals, he scored in Chile's 1-0 victory over Honduras, their first win at a World Cup since 1962.
Gustavo Canales (Union Espanola) Age 32; 1 cap. Argentine-born Canales has spent most of his career in Chile and Argentina, but also spent for six months in China. His World Cup chances have improved with injury to Junior Fernandes in April. A strong, tall classic number nine, he could be an alternative to Pinilla and Valdivia. Injuries have prevented him from having a bigger role for Chile. He was banned for doping while playing for Arsenal in Argentina in 2012.
Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo) Age 28; 35 caps. Winger who became "El Historico" (The Historic One) when he scored his first international goal in Chile's unforgettable 1-0 win over Argentina in the 2010 qualifiers, their first and only victory over their neighbors in a World Cup match. He also scored in Chile's 4-2 victory over Colombia that secured their place at the South Africa finals, their first since 1998.
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