Super Sanchez and Chile thwarted by Germany but World Cup ambitions firmly on track

Arturo Vidal is rarely anything but candid and he made his long-term ambitions for Chile quite clear this week - they want to win the World Cup.

"I hope I can play for many years to come but right now we can achieve a lot," he said on Wednesday ahead of their Confederations Cup showdown with Germany. "We can win this tournament, fight for the World Cup and we have the Copa America.

"We have good players and a good coach. We have everything we need to keep winning. I hope I can do so for many years to come, at least until I'm 40!"

On this evidence, the 30-year-old might not have that long to wait to get his hands on the game's biggest prize. Chile were held to a 1-1 draw by a strong if inexperienced Germany but it would not be unfair to say they deserved more. They certainly did everything to get it.

Joachim Low's side can be pleased to leave Kazan Arena with a point, which came when Lars Stindl converted a good team move to cancel out man-of-the-match Alexis Sanchez's opener. Progress to the last four is still very much in their hands and it would take a huge shock for them to be beaten by Cameroon on matchday three. 

This was much more of a statement performance from Chile. The victory may have eluded them but they have shown, through their displays, their work-rate and their terrific fan base, that nothing but first prize here will do. If they get it, do not discount them from challenging for the same success in a year's time.

Chile have been constructing this team, this style and this redoubtable self-belief for the best part of five years. Triggered initially by Marcelo Bielsa, these are hallmarks of Jorge Sampaoli's side but Juan Antonio Pizzi has kept them firmly on the same path since taking over nearly two years ago. There is a clear trust among the players that the team is pulling in the right direction and that even bigger rewards than two Copas America will follow.

Players like Vidal and Gonzalo Jara, who were banned for 10 games in 2011 for celebrating a baptism rather than arrive on time for training, have become leading figures in a team that champions the collective. Eduardo Vargas and Jean Beausejour - who lasted only two seasons with Wigan Athletic in England - seem to raise their performance levels 100-fold whenever they pull on the national shirt. Both were excellent in Kazan, with the woodwork denying Vargas the goal of the tournament so far.

Their star power is obvious - Sanchez and Vidal gave Germany's defence a torrid time - but magic from elite players is a bonus rather than a requisite to Chile. Vidal's surging runs from deep can only be effective as long as Marcelo Diaz, who had a difficult year in Germany, continues to patrol the defence so well.

Yes, this was a Germany B team but one with young players who already boast huge experience at the highest club levels. They are being coached to play in the same way as the more established stars with a view to breaking into the side for 2018. It's not hard to imagine Germany facing a similarly tough 90 minutes this time next year, should they meet Chile in Russia again.

There is no doubt that this competition means more to Chile than it does to Germany, or perhaps any other side here. The boisterous fans inside the stadium made it feel as though the game were being played in Santiago rather than near the Eurasian Steppes. 

World Cup qualification is also not a certainty, given that Pizzi's side are fourth in the South American section and have only four games left to play to sustain their one-point advantage over Argentina in fifth.

But if Chile go on to win the Confederations Cup - and they have a great chance - and see out qualifying successfully, then they will be clear candidates to triumph here next year. Vidal might be a world champion long before he reaches his fifth decade.

Read Full Story