Let’s start with the good news: Arturo Vidal’s knee is in decent shape. At least it seems to be. Considering all the doubt surrounding his fitness prior to the World Cup, and the late rumors of Arturo re-injuring his meniscus and being dropped from Jorge Sampaoli’s squad, it’s a downright miracle that Vidal made the World Cup and even managed to feature in most of Chile’s matches. Further good news was the – continued – positive performances from Mauricio Isla in a Chile jersey, though the side would be eliminated by Brazil in penalty kicks.
Martin Caceres and Uruguay, without their controversial star biter Luis Suarez, would also fall out after a 2-0 loss to Colombia, led by a heroic James Rodriguez performance. Supposedly, there was a deal for Rodriguez to come to Juve back in the Secco days, but it fell through. How does that make you feel? Probably bad, like Caceres and the rest of the Uruguay squad feel. Caceres still had a pretty decent match despite losing, but more on him later.
Isla and Vidal were key players for Chile in a really hard fought game. Vidal, who plays a more attacking role with Chile than he plays for Juve, had the most touches of any Chile player in the first half – 36 – and had over 10 passes in the final third. Time and time again, Chile would have a dangerous opportunity to score against Brazil and Vidal’s fingerprints would be all over it. Vidal, while not as influential to the side as Alexis Sanchez, is an important cog in Sampoali’s fighting machine. Sanchez, undeniably the key to Chile’s attack, played wonderfully off of the support of Vidal and others and bagged Chile’s goal.
Isla was just as good as Vidal – he was a rock in defense and dangerous going forward, with two key passes. Isla has had a very fine World Cup, and I hope he can carry his Chile form into Juve next season – that is unless some club decides to roll the dice and try and purchase him. Juventus bought his other half from Udinese a few weeks ago, which could mean he is a Juve guy for the foreseeable future, or it could mean they are trying to cash in on his wonderful play in the World Cup.
Moving back to Caceres, he had an alright game in a match where his side were pretty powerless in the face of Colombia’s attack. Caceres has had a somewhat inconsistent World Cup in terms of defensive performance, with a few errors leading to at least one goal – versus England – but he hasn’t really had an out and out bad match. The same can be said of much of the Uruguay side outside of Luis Suarez. Thus, it was no coincidence that with Suarez banned, Uruguay were toothless. Pardon the expression.
While Uruguay and Chile both had the same World Cup result – eliminated in the round of 16 – they have had wildly different experiences. Chile have been fan darlings of sorts, and they fought the host nation Brazil until the final minute in penalty kicks, not giving up an inch the entire time. This coming after they finished second in a group with the Netherlands, Spain, and Australia, beating Spain in the process.
Meanwhile Uruguay did get out of a tough group, but the results were overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Luis Suarez biting Juventus man Giorgio Chiellini. Suarez had been having a very good World Cup before that incident, leading his team to victory against England after returning from an injury not unlike Vidal’s. Regardless, Suarez once again bit another player, destroying his reputation and his nation’s World Cup hopes in one act. With a four month ban, he has plenty of time to heal his knee, I guess.
Next up is France and Paul Pogba, who play Nigeria on Monday. Then Switzerland and Stephan Lichtsteiner take on Argentina. As always, stay posted to JuveFC for the Juventus World Cu