Relentless style of play taking toll on Chileans

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Relentless style of play taking toll on Chileans
hile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi talks with Arturo Vidal during the Confederations Cup match against Australia. (AP)

Moscow - The system was first adopted under the leadership of coach Marcelo Bielsa, who took them to the 2010 World Cup

By Reuters/AFP

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Published: Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:04 PM

Last updated: Tue 27 Jun 2017, 1:08 AM

Chile's high-octane style of play has made them one of the world's most entertaining teams to watch but coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has admitted that it comes with a price.
Pizzi said that such a relentless style involved an enormous physical effort, raising questions as to whether an ageing squad will be able to maintain it at next year's World Cup, should they qualify.
Chile press high, try to win possession deep in the opposition's half and, when they have the ball, throw players forward in numbers in a manner which former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque once said was like "facing 11 kamikazes".
The system was first adopted under the leadership of coach Marcelo Bielsa, who took them to the 2010 World Cup.
It was continued by Jorge Sampaoli who led them to their first major title, the 2015 Copa America, and now by Pizzi, who took over at the start of last year.
When it works, it makes the South American champions an almost irresistible force, as Australia coach Ange Postecoglou commented following Sunday's 1-1 draw in the Confederations Cup.
"The most important thing was not to let Chile dominate the game because when that happens, it's almost impossible to beat them," he said.
But Pizzi, whose side face Portugal in the semifinals on Wednesday, acknowledged that it had taken its toll.
"Our style of play is very demanding, the players have to put in a great effort," he said.
"Our opponents know this and they often have a different way of playing (against us), they tend not to take the initiative.
"We always want to win back the ball and this needs a lot of effort and sacrifice," he added.
"There's no doubt that this causes wear and tear and when the games are as close together as they are in this tournament, there is no doubt that the players feel it."
That could be even more of a concern given Chile's age - the Confederations Cup squad has an average age of 28.6 - with several key players, including midfielder Arturo Vidal and defender Gary Medel, already over 30.
Only two members of the squad are under 23.
It was clear in the draws against Germany and Australia that Chile began to run out of steam in the second half.
Pizzi, however, has made it clear that Chile's style is also what makes them such a competitive team and he is not prepared to change it.
"The team's character and temperament is to always try and create scoring chances," he said before the start of the tournament. "We have show that our style makes us competitive against any opponents." 
Fitness battle
Pizzi hopes Charles Aranguiz will be fit for Wednesday's semifinal against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal after the midfield enforcer suffered a knock against Australia.
A hard challenge from Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill clattered Aranguiz, who had to be substituted at half-time of Sunday's 1-1 draw in Moscow.
Pizzi hopes to have the experienced Aranguiz, 28, fit to partner Arturo Vidal in Chile's defensive midfield core which helped win the Copa America title last year.
"He was in a bit of pain and we hope he will be able to recover, but like his teammates he is strong, he wants to play," said Pizzi.
If fit, Aranguiz faces a busy night at the Kazan Arena trying to ensure Ronaldo has a quiet night with the Real Madrid star having won man-of-the-match awards in all three of Portugal's games so far in Russia. 

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