The first big concern in this one is whether Chile’s star midfielder Arturo Vidal is fit and able to play tonight. The Juventus player has been struggling with inflammation in his right knee following an operation on his meniscus last month and was expected to be out for the whole of the group phase. They are far from a one man band though, as their third place finish in the South American qualifying section shows. They ended the campaign just four points behind Argentina, three ahead of Uruguay and now sit 14th in the FIFA rankings – above the likes of France and their Group B rival the Netherlands. They are quick on the attack, especially when Alexis Sanchez is on form, but their high back line can be exploited as the two goals from Egypt on 31st May proved. Quick, skilful and durable the Chileans will be hoping to, at least, make the Round of 16.

Australia are pitted by many to be the whipping boys of Group B, recently losing to Croatia and drawing with South Africa during their World Cup build-up. Given that they are still relatively new to the world stage and progression from the groups would be a massive achievement. They are however a very hard-working side and boast no lack of passion for the game. Failing to get over the first hurdle in 2010 will still be ringing in most of the player and a better showing will be demanded this time around. If they can get off to a winning start then anything is possible, but they rather stumbled their way through qualification and know they need to raise their game dramatically to make a last impression on the proceedings.

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Mark June 14, 20141:12 am

So. Did Chile “go two-up too early?” Is it THAT funny a score? When Chile passed and moved with any pace, they created chances. But between 11.17 and a few minutes ago that simply didn’t happen. And for all the talk that Oz “lacked quality”, they created decent chances, ALL from open play. AND after their goal, they were the better side. Well beyond “plucky territory.” Neither side defended well. But, hey, who has in the last ten years in any football ANYwhere? And…I don’t remember a Mexican wave.
Oz will find it harder against the Dutch AND Spain. And Chile’s chances depend to quite a degree on the size of Arturo Vidal’s knee, and whether Alexis Sanchez can rediscover the ability to make five-yard passes, which he lost almost entirely after half-time. Oh and what can I say about Tim Cahill that hasn’t been said already? Oh yes. I know. Matt Leckie was their best player.
Cracking stuff. Hope you endured my blogging. Richard said so much more with so many…er…fewer words. Watch and learn, Murphy. Watch and learn. TTFN

Ian June 14, 201412:55 am

I suspect that Chile had to work harder for that than they believed that they would, and things got a bit hairy for them over the course of the last twenty minutes or so. It certainly felt as if Australia shaded the second half. Chile will have to improve against the Netherlands. Spain, however, could be a different matter altogether, if their performance earlier this evening was anything to go by.

Mark June 14, 201412:53 am

3-1. An offside-ish Pinilla has a shot saved and the loose ball rolls to Beausejour who fires the ball in from 20 yards, setting off a firework display which says very, VERY little for stadium security. Chile flattered as the game ends. But a cracker. More detailed summary in a minute, after Ian Wright tells me what REALLY happened

Ian June 14, 201412:50 am

Well, I think that’s a little harsh on Australia.

Mark June 14, 201412:48 am

And Dixon drops the “one more chance” cliché. I get a prediction right at last…

Mark June 14, 201412:44 am

Dixon is back in the old “they’ve got to get some setpieces” routine, even though their best efforts have been from open play and down to the sheer magnificence of the supreme being Timothy Cahill. Hope the cliché about there being “one more chance” turns into a truism, as Chile are operating a modern catenaccio here, so it will go to Oz.

Ian June 14, 201412:41 am

Kudos to Australia, by the way. They could quite easily have completely folded after such a dismal start, but they picked themselves up, worked their way back into the match and I think they’ve been the better team in the second half.

Richard June 14, 201412:40 am

You can see Tim Cahill in the next series of “human superheroes” where he’ll be doing his Magneto impressions.

Mark June 14, 201412:38 am

Oh and Leccy has “been one of the brightest performers for Australia tonight.” See? Not just me…

Mark June 14, 201412:37 am

Chilaay fans partaaying like they are beating a far better team than Oz. They don’t seem THAT concerned about the magnetic Cahill…

Richard June 14, 201412:36 am

Halloran has done well down the left. It’s his birthday tomorrow – or now if your running GMT

Mark June 14, 201412:32 am

Chile coach Jorge Sampiani wins the wide-eyed stare of the tournament. Retired from playing at 19 with an injury. Over-stretched eye socket, to judge by that. Expect the ref’s assistant he stared at to disallow Oz’s next goal for offside, even if its an own goal.

Richard June 14, 201412:31 am

Australia are really pumping balls into the box now. Lee Dixon’s favourite player, Tim Cahill, is getting on all of them.

He “is like a magnet” and can “out jump someone who’s 6ft” apparently.

Mark June 14, 201412:30 am

Another great cross from Davidson but its all about Cahill even before the cross comes in. Cahill heads over but only I think he should have done better. He’s been immense. But…not as immense as we are being told…

Mark June 14, 201412:26 am

One glum middle-aged Croatian in the middle of partaaying Aussies. On comes Jean Beausejour for Chile. Off go thousands of TV sets in Birmingham

Richard June 14, 201412:25 am

Sexy statistics are the best kind.

Mark June 14, 201412:25 am

And all this goal-line tech whinging from a country who won a World Cup with a goal which never, NEVER crossed the line. And you ALL know it… Roger Hunt was biased. Meanwhile, Leccy is about to score the goal of the tournament until Diaz gets back with a last-ditcher. I’m getting writers’ cramp while typing. A fantastic match…

Ian June 14, 201412:22 am

Oh, while I think of it, did you see the new stats page? (The old one has died)

Mark June 14, 201412:21 am

A knackered looking Vidal goes off. He will get better, or else Oz and the Dutch will come out of this group. Oz have been galvanised since Ryan McGowan came on as sub. And that’s not a phrase you’ll have ever read. And here’s Vargas, great clearance by Wilkinson. Goal line technology says no goal. But this all happened a minute ago. Frank Lampard gets another goalline technology-related namecheck. And the teams calm down to give me a chance to type this. Thanks Lads. Of you go again now…

Richard June 14, 201412:20 am

Great through ball from Vidal finds Vargas but his chip, which beats the keeper, is cleared off the line by a sliding Wilkinson.

End-to-end now!

Richard June 14, 201412:18 am

Australia have really picked up as the game’s gone on. Leccy has invited Cahill to attack several great balls into the box. Oar is looking lively too.

Ian June 14, 201412:17 am

Fair play to Australia. They’re really having a go at this and Chile don’t look great, defensively.

Mark June 14, 201412:16 am

Bresciano shot saved after a great run by Leccy and a fine cross. Dixon is giving Cahill all the credit for fouling the centre-half as the ball sailed four foot over his head. But Bravo’s save is the best bit of a lot of good bits. And Dixon’s STILL banging on about Cahill.

Richard June 14, 201412:15 am

Bravo makes a great save to keep Chile ahead

Ian June 14, 201412:13 am

That was a beautiful cross.

Mark June 14, 201412:12 am

Great cross by Leccy, who is starting to spark…oh…there’s HUNDREDS more of them. You’ll just have to hope Chile start to dominate possession again.

Richard June 14, 201412:11 am

Cahill has now had a goal disallowed for offside. It’s the right decision and a trend is beginning to develop in this tournament.

Mark June 14, 201412:09 am

Cahill throws a funny shape as he misses a good headed chance. Almost as if his shirt was being tugged violently…oh…wait… I’ve seen penalties given (to Brazil) for less…

Richard June 14, 201412:09 am

Slow opening five minutes. Australia have been seeing more of the ball.

Franjic has gone off for McGowen – the first injury substitution

Mark June 14, 201412:08 am

Oz’s Franjic has put “his left hand onto the back of his left hamstring.” If he could put it on the front of his hamstring he’d be in hospital…or a circus.

Richard June 14, 201412:03 am

Both teams are back out and we’re off with with second half ahead.

Mark June 13, 201411:59 pm

A tweet at 11.30: “Wow. You wait another four years for Australia to be in the World Cup and it’s over in 15 minutes. A waiting:hope ratio of 5,844:1.” That probably seemed fair comment at the time…
And yes…Strachan WAS more incisive there than Shearer…

Richard June 13, 201411:56 pm

Sure I just saw an inflatable Kangaroo!

Richard June 13, 201411:53 pm

That Microsoft advert with Aaron Paul turned my Xbox on with his voice command. I wish he’d stop doing that – pretty much forced advertising.

Off subject but I’m quite miffed about it!

Mark June 13, 201411:51 pm

And there’s the spray. A “One from the training ground” = the sort of one which suggests Chile need a new training ground – ends a fun first half, even if Oz have fought their way back into matters a little too literally at times. Chile declared after the second goal and could yet pay the price. Probably not, though. If Chile get their game together early in the second half to ANY extent, they’ll win at a canter. If not…they’ll still win but early hopes of topping the group on goal difference seem to have gone either way. Now, will Gordon Strachan be as incisive as Alan Shearer at half-time? I’m thinking: “Yyyyyyyyyyep.” See you in 12 mins

Ian June 13, 201411:51 pm

What an odd half of football. Chile are clearly inhabiting a different football univere to Australia, but it looks a bit to me as if they have got a budgie-hearted defence, so you can’t quite rule Australia out yet. I’m off for a delicious pint of Gazprom. Back in a bit.

Richard June 13, 201411:47 pm

And that’s half time.

Chile 2 – 1 Australia

Richard June 13, 201411:47 pm

Did I miss the goal-line technology when Sanchez scored?

Mark June 13, 201411:45 pm

This ref has forgotten his free-kick spray but hasn’t forgotten the “must book Tim Cahill” FIFA directive.

Richard June 13, 201411:44 pm

For those of you interested…

“Jedinak Jedinak, lets all hope he breaks his neck”

Classy moment from a bitter Liverpool fan.

Richard June 13, 201411:40 pm

Just twigged that Jedinak is playing. Accidentally sent an email about him once, with a telling rhyme, to a board member at my work. (Obviously he wasn’t my intended recipient)

Mark June 13, 201411:39 pm

Getting end to end a bit too quick for my typing speed, which is normally minutes per word. Maybe the Oz goal will liven Chile up. But it hasn’t just yet. Goal coming up?

Mark June 13, 201411:37 pm

And Tim Cahill takes full advantage of Chile not being very tall at all. No benefit in being cagey if you make it that easy to cross a ball. Then Claudio Bravo, Chile’s previously bored keeper (he was playing sweeper a couple of minutes ago), saves from Cahill with his legs. If Cahill could have headed it…

Richard June 13, 201411:36 pm

Chile play quite a high back line. Will definitely be their undoing against a pacey striker.

Ian June 13, 201411:35 pm

Oh, hello. Australia pull one back through Cahill, proving in the process that, while Chile are terrific to watch, they ain’t going to win the World Cup this year.

Richard June 13, 201411:35 pm

Cahill has grabbed one back. Thirty odd seconds of pressure and it’s suddenly a different landscape.

Mark June 13, 201411:33 pm

“Don’t forget Spain lost their first match in 2010 too.” Well, I’ve been told NINETEEN times since the final whistle in Salvador. So I won’t forget. Game in Cuiaba getting mighty scrappy. Chile can have a third before the break if they want it. Mind you, if Meda had a right foot it might have been three there.

Ian June 13, 201411:32 pm

I quite enjoyed the Mexico vs Chile match, Mark. Nothing like a good torrential downpour during a football match.

Richard June 13, 201411:29 pm

Australia can’t seem to string any sort of passing move together. Everything goes out of play.

Mark June 13, 201411:29 pm

The idea that this has been “a football feast” from the word go suggests that Mexico/Cameroon has already been forgotten. No team seems defensively capable of being “cagey.” Even Chile looked exposed by Leckie’s run down the flank until Leckie had a…erm…power cut.

Richard June 13, 201411:26 pm

Oz’s best chance is surely a power cut.

Mark June 13, 201411:24 pm

Already Australia are in “best chance will be from a setpiece” territory. Trans: they’re Shi’ite. Chile, meanwhile, are not very tall at all. You sense Dixon rehearsed that, he said it so quick for comic effect. And what happens to Oz when Cahill retires? Well…this.

Richard June 13, 201411:22 pm

So, what happens to the Socceroo’s when Cahill retires?

Mark June 13, 201411:20 pm

Tommy Oar shoots narrowly wide with Australia’s best/first/only effort. Chile showing early signs of declaring at two. Reminds me of Scotland Zaire in 1974. I am old.

Richard June 13, 201411:18 pm

As if you didn’t know, it’s all Chile here.

Terry June 13, 201411:17 pm

I er had hopes that Australia would prove to be difficult opponents. I know it’s early days but …

Richard June 13, 201411:16 pm

Goalkeepers are always to blame from what I remember. I played sweeper when it was still trendy.

Mark June 13, 201411:15 pm

Chile on the way to leading the group on goal difference. Jorge Valdivia supplies the looping finish to incisive moves from Vidal and Sanchez.

Richard June 13, 201411:14 pm

Blimey, 2-0 already.

This time Valdivia gets it with a placed shot to the top left from just outside the box.

Vargas did the work though by peeling away the back line.

Ian June 13, 201411:14 pm

Richard, I was in goal a lot of the time, and goalkeepers are never to blame for anything, ever.

Meanwhile, it’s 2-0 Chile. Australia are really, really living down to expectations at the moment.

Mark June 13, 201411:13 pm

First move and Chile are in on goal. Hate to say I told you so. Australian defence looking very Norwich there. Lots of bodies, none of them either use or ornament. And Sanchez side-foots it home. 1 (of may) -0..What?? Oh… back in a sec

Richard June 13, 201411:13 pm

You were the culprit right?

Ian June 13, 201411:12 pm

I have played in teams that have defended like that. This is not a compliment, Australia. Not a compliment.

Richard June 13, 201411:12 pm

Sanchez gets us off to a flyer. 1-0 Chile.

Not sure what Ryan was thinking at the back post there.

The shape of things to come?

Mark June 13, 201411:10 pm

Oh, and a word for those Oz socks? Surgical…

Mark June 13, 201411:10 pm

Already a clash of styles…in that Chile have some. Lee Dixon suggests it will be tight. But Chile getting a bit more space than the average. First good move and they’ll be in on goal.

Richard June 13, 201411:08 pm

I am so pleased that Vidal managed to be fit for this one.

Ian June 13, 201411:07 pm

That pitch isn’t looking so great, either.

Ian June 13, 201411:05 pm

Yellow shirts, yellow shorts and white socks is a terrible combination. Just a terrible one. Warning: I will almost certainly be quite drunk by the end of this.

Mark June 13, 201411:05 pm

Gonzal O’Hara. That’s what I heard.

Richard June 13, 201411:02 pm

Sorry, but late to the opening of this one. Doesn’t look like I’ve missed much!

Ian June 13, 201411:02 pm

Has Pele predicted them to win the tournament? Because that’s the real kiss of death for any country that isn’t otherwise the favourite.

Mark June 13, 201411:01 pm

And it took six seconds for the first “dark horses” comment. Super start.

Mark June 13, 201411:00 pm

Yep. Chile the REAL dark horses. Although if Vidal IS fit, they are suddenly much brighter horses.

Ian June 13, 201410:58 pm

Evening Mark. So, Chile are the hipsters choice and Australia have got their worst squad for a World Cup finals since 1974. Have I got that about right?

Mark June 13, 201410:57 pm

BTW: This “only the first verse of the national anthem” directive is working well, isn’t it?

Mark June 13, 201410:57 pm

Evening-ish. all. This is the first test for the World Cup completists, although probably just a light warm-up for Cote D’Ivoire/Japan two o’clock Sunday morning. Chile drew 0-0 with Australia in the 1974 tournament, with torrential rain, a five-minute demo in the centre-circle against the then year=old Pinochet dictatorship and not much football.
Chile were called “Chilly” back then, not “Chillay” as we now know to be correct. Australia were in Oceania back then too. Different days.
Australia, of course, are looking for a unique sporting treble, winning the World Cup to add to the unique sporting double of regaining the Ashes and winning the Derby. Doubtless England cricket fans everywhere will be wishing them well.