Chile captain Claudio Bravo is driven to continue an unprecedented period of success for his nation in Sunday’s Confederations Cup final against Germany.
La Roja had never won a major international title until their 2015 Copa America triumph and they followed that up by again getting the better of Argentina in the Copa America Centenario final last year.
There were strong echoes of those two penalty shoot-out victories in Kazan on Wednesday, where Manchester City goalkeeper Bravo put a torrid season at club level behind him to save spot-kicks from Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani in the semi-final triumph over Portugal.
Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis Sanchez all held their nerve to see Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side through after an absorbing but goalless 120 minutes.
“We are from a country that might not be used to these kind of situations,” the 34-year-old said of making it three finals in as many years.
“So, by playing football, we have the chance to make our people happy so they can forget about their problems. That’s the most beautiful thing of all.”
Nevertheless, there are indications from the Bravo household that the latest generation of Chile supporters are becoming more than a little accustomed to success.
“I have four kids at home and if I come back with empty hands the youngest would get angry and demand for results,” Bravo said of his unlikely harshest critic.
“We earned this ourselves. That’s beautiful and hopefully that will remain the same in the future.
“We hope to keep bringing joy to our fans and now we face an important step, so we’ll aim for the desired result and we’ll make sure we are consistent in order to achieve it.”
Having come together impressively under Marcelo Bielsa at the 2010 World Cup and scaled the heights with Jorge Sampaoli at the helm, this Chile side has a long-established and close-knit understanding almost unheard of at international level. Togetherness akin to a club team and a common sense of purpose are easy to spot.
By contrast, Germany’s squad for this competition lacks numerous rested star names, but Joachim Low has moulded an exceptionally talented group of youngsters and fringe players into a formidable outift.
They have plundered 11 goals across their four matches in Russia – although they remain without a clean sheet – and shining displays from the likes of captain Julian Draxler, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka suggest the first knockings of a glorious cycle, as their accomplished opponents eye a decorated final stretch.
“We are a young team but there are a lot of players with international experience,” said centre-back Antonio Rudiger.
“These guys are all players who play in the first XI with their club team. There is big quality in the squad.
“I think not everyone thought we would get so far but I always believed in the quality of the team and that is the most important thing.”
Key Opta stats
– Both Germany and Chile have reached the Confederations Cup final for the first time. Germany’s previous best performance in the competition was third place in 2005, beating Mexico 4-3 after extra-time in the play-off, while Chile are the first nation to reach the final at the first attempt since France in 2001.
– The last European team to win this competition were France in 2003 – Germany are looking to become the third different European nation to lift the trophy after Les Bleus and Denmark.
– South American nations have dominated the competition, winning five of the nine previous editions. Argentina have won once, with Brazil winning four including each of the last three tournaments (2005, 2009, 2013).
– Germany are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Chile, with three wins followed by a draw in the group stage of this tournament.m Chile’s last win against Germany came in a friendly in 1968 – they’ve never beaten them in a competitive tournament fixture before.
– Timo Werner has had a hand in more goals than any other player in this year’s tournament, with three goals and one assist. Teammate Leon Goretzka is the joint top scorer with three goals.
– Arturo Vidal has created more goalscoring opportunities than other player at the 2017 Confederations Cup with 13.
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