Defending champions Chile to battle past Japan
Two-time champions, Chile, open their account in attempting to make it three consecutive Copa America titles for the mountainous nation. The golden generation is coming to an end with their titans in Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez soon to enter the twilight of their outstanding careers. Japan will be their first opponents in defence of the tournament crown, a nation who made it to the last 16 of last years’ World Cup that the Chileans failed to qualify for.
Before losing the Asia Cup final 3-1 to Qatar in February, Japan had won 10 in an 11-game unbeaten run. Coming into this one they have completed a hattrick of clean sheets in friendlies with Bolivia, Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador respectively. None of the Asians’ last four have seen over 2.5 goals with both teams getting on the scoresheet on none of those occasions. Somewhat down to inferior opposition, nine of the nations’ last 12 wins have been accompanied by a shutout.
Offense is comfortably the South Americans strong suit of late, finding the net in all of their last six. They have also conceded nine in their last five. To beat the Chileans you need to score plenty though, ‘La Roja’ have let in exactly three goals in their last defeats. Their record versus Asian opposition is top class (11W, 7D, 2L). Sanchez has bagged two in his last two and will be key in rolling back the years if they are to put a good run together in the Copa America. Though having said that he is still only 30 years old. The Manchester United forward is a doubt for this match, though they are likely to risk him in such an important fixture. Chile have conceded one or more goals in the first half in four of their last five internationals and their last five Copa America group stage encounters have all brought over 2.5 goals.
Somehow the back-to-back winners of the tournament find themselves not even favourites to win Group C with Uruguay in far better shape. Increasing the importance of this game, with the other side in the group significantly less fancied, Ecuador. Chile are strong favourites with their pedigree in the competition and should get past Japan though they have not played a competitive match for the best part of two years. I can see both these teams progressing from the group but losing out in the quarter finals.
Japan – Chile Betting Tip
Chile to beat Japan in a high-scoring game with the Japanese showing a lot of heart and demonstrating the weakness of the Chilean defence.
Chile to Win + Over 2 goals with Bet365 at odds of 6/4.