Australia (0-0-0) vs. Chile (0-0-0), 6 p.m. (ET)
06/13/2014 9:55 AM
06/13/2014 9:59 AM
Cuiaba, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Chile will have its first opportunity to open the eyes of the football world on Friday against Australia in Group B play at the Arena Pantanal.
La Roja arrived on the world football scene in 2010 when they showed the can play as beautifully as any team in South Africa. Under Marcelo Bielsa, the team was full of vibrancy and vigor, attacking with a fluidity that not many expected.
Chile's squad remains largely unaltered from 2010 and are led by key pieces such as Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel and Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez has made the jump from promising player to global superstar. The 25- year-old enjoyed a banner year with Barcelona, scoring 19 goals in league play.
Isla, 25, has gained much more experience since his exploits at the 2010 World Cup, splitting his club allegiances with two seasons at Udinese before making the switch to Juventus in 2012.
The same can be said for Medel, who was a key defender for Sevilla in a run of a few impressive seasons. The 26-year-old moved to Cardiff City last summer, and while the Welsh club was relegated from the Premier League, Medel enjoyed a solid campaign on a personal level.
On the offensive end, Esteban Paredes, Mauricio Pinilla, Eduardo Varas, Jean Beausejour and Fabian Orellana all have a chance to chip in as Sanchez cannot be expected to carry the team out of a group that consists of Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.
The biggest question for Chile will be whether midfielder Arturo Vidal is fit for the opening match. Vidal is one of the most well-rounded central midfielders in the world, but he was a surprising inclusion on the final roster following a recent knee operation.
Chile is more than capable of making it out of Group B without Vidal, but its outlook would be much brighter if the Juventus man is able to suit up.
Australia, meanwhile, enters the 2014 event as a huge underdog against stiff competition in the group.
And facing teams like Spain, Chile and The Netherlands with a vastly inexperienced squad doesn't make the Socceroos task any easier.
Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano are the only two members of the team with more than 50 caps, making them two of the country's most important pieces.
Cahill has featured for Australia in 2006 and 2010 and even became the first Australian player to score in World Cup play by netting two goals against Japan on June 12, 2006.
Bresciano, also 34, boasts a great deal of experience in Serie A having represented the likes of Parma, Palermo and Lazio, but he has not played in Italy's top flight since 2011.
Captain Mile Jedinak is another key piece for the Socceroos. He is coming off an impressive season in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and will be tasked with guiding the team from the middle of the park.
Australia figures to struggle in Group B, but Friday's match represents the club's best chance to earn a point.
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