Chile to give Portugal its toughest test

Portugal and Chile meet for the first time in competitive action in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's (L) Portugal will be looking to get teh better off Chile in the first semifinal of the Confederations cup in Kazan Arena.   -  Getty Images

Portugal midfielder Pizzi has warned that Chile remain one of the favourite to win the Confederations Cup as his side prepare to face-off in Wednesday's semifinal.

The Copa America holder was surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Australia in its final Group B game, a result that allowed Germany to claim top spot in the group with a 3-1 win over Cameroon.

It means Juan Antonio Pizzi's side must return to Kazan Arena to face Group A winner Portugal, a team it last met in a friendly match in 2011, which finished 1-1.

 

Chile has failed to win any of its last three games with a European team and Fernando Santos' side has only been beaten once in its last 10 matches.

But Pizzi – who made his first appearance of the competition from the bench in the 4-0 victory over New Zealand last Saturday – expects a tough test in the Tatarstan capital.

"We're facing one of the favourite teams who, like Germany, were favourites from the start," he told a news conference.

"We know the difficulties Chile pose for us but we will prepare to play a good game on Wednesday, knowing that we have a very tough opponent ahead who have shown their quality over the past few years.

"They have already won the Copa America and been doing well in the Confederations Cup but I think we are ready to play a good game and achieve our goal of being in the final next Sunday.

"They have excellent players who play for great clubs of a world-class level. We've had an excellent tournament and we want to continue our work."

 

Chile is bidding to keep up South America's impressive record in this tournament. The last time a Confederations Cup final did not feature a team from the continent was in 2003, when France beat Cameroon.

Its path to this year's showpiece in St Petersburg has been complicated by its failure to top the group but defender Gonzalo Jara does not believe meeting Group A runner-up Mexico would have been any easier.

"Yes, [facing Portugal] is tough, just as Mexico would have been," he said after its draw with Australia. "It doesn't make any difference to us whether it's Mexico or Portugal.

"I think the four best teams are here so they will be some good semifinals."

Centre-back Pepe is suspended for Portugal, while Bernardo Silva was forced to sit out a training session on Monday due to an ankle knock sustained against New Zealand. Raphael Guerreiro is also still recovering from a left ankle blow he suffered in the 1-0 win over Russia.

 

Key Opta Stats:

- Portugal won its last game against a South American side, beating Argentina 1-0 in a friendly in November 2014.
- Portugal is the joint-highest scorer in this year's Confederations Cup (7 – level with Germany), while both Portugal and Chile have conceded the fewest goals (2).
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored twice in this year's tournament – no other player has scored more often.
- Chile's four goals have been scored by different players (Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas and Martin Rodriguez), with Vidal, Sanchez and Vargas also providing an assist.
- Either Portugal or Chile will become the first nation to reach the final in its Confederations Cup debut since France in 2001 – the French had won the European Championship in the previous year, as Portugal has done.
- Portugal is the only side which has not been behind at any stage in the 2017 Confederations Cup.
- Three of Chile's four goals at these finals have come after half-time.

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