Chile stamped themselves as genuine players on the global scene with their exciting 2014 World Cup campaign and they built on that momentum by taking out the 2015 Copa America in front of their home fans.
Chile were drawn alongside Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico in Group A of the Copa America and they started their campaign with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ecuador, but their defense failed to fire in their 3-3 draw with Mexico.
A dominant 5-0 victory over Bolivia was enough to see Chile progress to the knockout stages on top of Pool A and they survived a danger game in the quarter-finals against Uruguay thanks to a late goal from Mauricio Isla.
Chile were drawn to take on the surprise packages of the tournament Peru in the semi-finals and they bounced back from a Gary Medel own-goal to progress to the 2015 Copa American Final against Argentina.
Neither Chile or Argentina were able to break the 0-0 deadlock in over 120 metres of football, but it was Chile that were able to maintain their composure in the lottery that is the penalty shootout; with Matías Fernández, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aránguiz and Alexis Sanchez all converting from the spot, while only Lionel Messi was able to get the job done for Argentina.
Chile’s manager Jorge Sampaoli encouraged his side to throw everything at his native Argentina in the 2015 Copa America Final and he said that his side were more than deserving of their penalty shootout victory and were the best team throughout the entire tournament.
“We had to play a great game against one of the world’s best teams for the quality of players,” Sampaoli said.
“We should have won in 90 minutes, but ended up getting justice in a shootout.
“From the first game, Chile were playing to win the Copa America.
“The team confronted and overcame rivals to win the Copa America through leadership, hard work and discipline.
“That is the merit of the players that I have fortune to train.”
Chile still have plenty of hard work to do to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but Sampaoli believes that the current team he has in place is more than capable of improving on their second round finish in the 2014 World Cup.
“People are now starting to dream,” Sampaoli said.
“We have done something great today and qualifying for the (2018) World Cup will be Chile’s next target.
“My duty is linked to the fate of this country and these players
“I don’t have Chilean nationality, but I am excited by the chance to make Chile champions.
“The coaching staff are all Argentine, but we all want Chile to be champions.”
Chile are currently available at 2018 World Cup odds of $41 with Ladbrokes, while Germany ($5.50) are currently a clear favorite from Argentina ($8), Brazil ($8), Spain ($8), France ($8), the Netherlands ($11) and Italy ($14).