Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Chile v Bolivia: Copa America holders under pressure

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Jun 2016

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Holders Chile are under pressure going into their Copa America match against Bolivia on Friday following defeat to Argentina in their opening Group D match.

Chile, winners of the competition in 2015 and ranked fifth in the world, lost 2-1 in Santa Clara on Monday, with Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega goals meaning Jose Pedro Fuenzalida’s stoppage-time header was scant consolation.

Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men did not have ideal preparation for the tournament, losing to Jamaica and Mexico, while defender Eugenio Mena has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a hamstring injury suffered against Argentina – an unwelcome development as the scrutiny increases.

There is now little margin for error as they prepare to take on Bolivia in Foxborough, with only two spots available to progress to the knockout stages.

Argentina and Panama are already on three points at the top of the pile and they meet in the group’s other game, meaning a draw will eliminate the losers of Chile and Bolivia’s clash.

“There is always going to be criticism,” said Chile attacker Mark Gonzalez. “We are human of course it affects you when you are criticised, but that is part of our job. If we win against Bolivia it will be a different story.

“The team is confident in what we can do, regardless of what happened against Argentina.

“Logic and statistics would suggest we should win against Bolivia. But it would be a tremendous mistake to rely on that – we know that we must win. We know the Copa America is very tough and we have to continue to improve.”

Bolivia are also in trouble, with their 2-1 loss to Panama in Orlando leaving them up against it. Having lost to their weakest opponents in the pool, they now need unlikely results against Chile and Argentina to salvage their campaign.

Recent history in the fixture strongly favours Chile. They smashed Bolivia 5-0 en route to victory in last year’s competition and have not been beaten by their opponents since 2000.

Julio Cesar Baldivieso’s men have only picked up three points from six games in World Cup qualifying and have lost 10 of their last 11 games in a miserable run of form that looks unlikely to end.

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