MX23RW : Saturday, April 17 17:58:52| >> :600:13221894:13221894:
Jun 12, 2015 at 12.30am UK at Estadio Nacional, Santiago
Vidal (67' pen.), Vargas (84')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Chile vs. Ecuador

Sports Mole looks ahead to the opening match of this summer's Copa America between hosts Chile and Ecuador.

The 44th edition of the Copa America will get underway on Thursday when hosts Chile take on Ecuador at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago.

Neither of these sides have previously won the tournament, but much is expected of the Chileans in particular, with the bookmakers having installed them as third favourites to triumph behind South American giants Brazil and Argentina.


Head coach Jorge Sampaoli of Chile reacts after his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Chile at Maracana on June 18, 2014© Getty Images

Not since the days of the much-feared strike partnership of Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano has there been this much excitement centred around the Chilean national side.

Much of the credit for that should go to head coach Jorge Sampaoli, who since taking charge in 2012 has implemented a new playing style.

The 55-year-old Argentine demands that his side play with a high tempo and push their opposition further up the pitch.

It is a strategy that has won La Roja many admirers, particularly at last summer's World Cup where they showed that they had the ability to mix it with the very biggest nations. Holders Spain were defeated in the group stages, while they were unfortunate not to knock Brazil out in the last 16.

Since those exploits, their form in friendlies has been patchy, with three defeats having been suffered in their last five outings.

Nevertheless, with the likes of Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel, Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez all fit and primed for action following impressive seasons for their respective club sides, Sampaoli's men are expected to go deep in the competition.

It is a tournament that they have never previously won, but, playing in front of a passionate home crowd, this perhaps represents Chile's best opportunity to be crowned South American champions.

Recent form: DLWDWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLW


Enner Valencia of Ecuador (R) celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Honduras on June 20, 2014© Getty Images

The Ecuadorians will have fancied their chances of progressing through a group that contained France, Switzerland and Honduras at last summer's World Cup, but despite holding the French to a credible draw, they ended up in third spot and were eliminated.

Head coach Reinaldo Rueda paid the price for that when he was relieved of his duties soon after, and while Sixto Vizuete had a brief stint in interim charge, the role of restoring pride in the team has been handed to Gustavo Quinteros.

Like his compatriot Sampaoli in the opposite dugout, the 50-year-old has a wide variety of managerial experience from his stints in charge of numerous South American clubs.

However, if Ecuador's recent Copa America history is anything to go by, Quinteros has a tough job on his hands. Heading into the tournament, La Tri are without a victory since a 4-0 win over Venezuela in 2001, which is a total of nine matches.

Going further back, since entering the 1995 instalment of the competition, there have been just four victories from 22 outings, during which there were 16 defeats inflicted.

However, there have at least been signs of late that Quinteros has made the North-Western country a more competitive force, with two wins and a draw being picked up from their last five friendly encounters.

Recent form: LLLDLL
Recent form (all competitions): DWLLDW

Team News

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia celebrates scoring for Ecuador on June 27, 2007.© Getty Images

Quinteros's job of reversing Ecuador's Copa America fortunes was not helped by the news that Antonio Valencia was unavailable for selection.

The Manchester United winger has undergone surgery on a troublesome ankle problem, while injury has also ruled out striker Felipe Caicedo and midfielder Michael Arroyo.

Enner Valencia and Jefferson Montero, both of whom played in the Premier League last term, are fit, though, and should feature in the starting lineup.

As for Chile, a check will be made on Vidal following his outing on Saturday night for Juventus in the Champions League final. The industrious midfielder was not in top condition for the World Cup, so he is likely to shake off any fatigue to play.

Injuries have sidelined striker Esteban Paredes and midfielder Carlos Carmona for the entire tournament, while former Liverpool winger Mark Gonzalez was overlooked by Sampaoli, despite the fact that he is a veteran of 51 caps.

Chile possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Silva, Medel, Jara; Isla, Beausejour, Aranguiz, Mena, Vidal; Vargas, Sanchez

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Dominguez; Paredes, Ayovi, Mina, Achilier; Martinez, Noboa, Lastra, Bolanos, Montero; Valencia

Head To Head

In total, there have been 50 previous meetings between these two nations, with Chile the clear leaders thanks to their 27 victories.

As for Ecuador, they have won on 10 occasions, the most recent of which was achieved in October 2012.

They last faced each other in the Copa America back in in 2007 when a brace from Humberto Suazo helped to seal a 3-2 victory for the Chileans.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Chile 2-0 Ecuador

Chile will have the expectation of a nation on their shoulders, but with the quality at their disposal, they should be able to deal with that against Ecuador. Opening matches of a tournament can be tight affairs, but a routine win for Chile is widely anticipated.

ID:227207: cacheID:227207:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:10941:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Switzerland's forward Admir Mehmedi celebrates after scoring during a Group E football match between Switzerland and Ecuador at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014
Read Next:
Player Ratings: Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
FA Cup
Premier League
Copa del Rey
Serie A
Ligue 1
Primeira Liga
League One
League Two
National League
National League North
National League South
Scottish Cup
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Greek Superleague
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Norwegian Eliteserien
Swedish Allsvenskan
NIFL Premiership
League of Ireland Premier
Welsh Premier League
Belarusian Premier League
Segunda Division
Serie B
Ligue 2
Eerste Divisie
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Liga MX
AFC Champions League
Australian A-League
J1 League
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs321481054371750
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves31108133141-1038
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3298153553-1835
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3142251755-3814

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!