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How Portugal can beat Chile in the Confederations Cup semi-final

Wednesday 28th June 2017
It's hard to call any team with Cristiano Ronaldo in it an underdog, but let's be frank here, Portugal are not a good side. They‘re a team that relies on individual moments of brilliance rather than cohesive team play. They frauded their way to the European Championship last summer despite initially finishing 3rd in the group stage.

Now they will face their sternest test yet in a showdown with the back to back Copa America winners, Chile.

The Chileans are a formidable force that has foiled Lionel Messi on several occasions, now they'll try to frustrate Cristiano Ronaldo in the same way, but here's how the Portuguese can prevent that.

Man mark Arturo Vidal & Alexis Sánchez

For their respective clubs, they are talismans and that's no different on the international stage. Between them, the duo has represented their country on over 200 occasions. They're idols in their home nation and if Portugal doesn't man mark both of them, it could decide the game.

Arturo Vidal is a beastly presence in the middle that breaks the lines with passes and opens up space with his movement. He's the driving force for Chile's counter attacking and break up play, the man basically takes on all roles whilst in midfield. He breaks up play, starts attacks and eventually ends them. If Portugal can keep him quiet, they've basically nullified the engine of the side.

As for Alexis Sánchez, he's a player who's much more elusive and trickier to contain. His constant on the ball trickery and nimble feet mean he's nightmare for opposing defenders. After scoring against Germany in the penultimate group game, the forward is now the Chile's all-time leading goalscorer (38).

The forward is versatile as he can operate centrally and drift into the wide channels, meaning multiple defenders are tasked with marking him per game. For Portugal to contain him they must aggressively stick close to him and isolate him from his teammates.

Attack the flanks

Despite operating in a fluid 4-3-3 system, this Chile team have a clear weakness, their full-backs. Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour are two ageing full-backs that lack pace and tactical nous. When you see that Sánchez and Vidal play for Arsenal and Bayern Munich, it's no surprise that the weak points in the team play for Cagliari and Universidad de Chile respectively.

More startling than their quality is also the lack of defensive cover they get. Juan Pizzi believes in forcing the issue from the front. He wants his teams to press high and squeeze up the pitch, as a result, they leave their full-backs exposed.

Fernando Santos should instruct his wide men in Ricardo Quaresma and Luis Nani to stay wide on either side of the pitch to target the vulnerable full-backs. Cristiano Ronaldo should also use all his attacking experience to drift out wide to create chaos on the flanks. Portugal must encourage 1v1 duels all across the pitch as it's the only way they'll expose spaces in Chile's tight-knit midfield.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 

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