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Chile Are Good Enough to Make It out of the Group of Death at World Cup 2014

Chile's Arturo Vidal watches his team mates during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Chile in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
Dan ColasimoneContributor IMarch 7, 2014

Chile have a fighting chance of advancing to the knockout stages of World Cup 2014, despite being drawn alongside Spain, the Netherlands and Australia in a daunting-looking Group B.

The Socceroos will be the lowest-ranked team in Brazil, and they are firm favorites to finish bottom of the group, but the pedigree of Spain and the Netherlands is undeniable.

Those two teams advanced all the way to the final, of course, in 2010 and both remain potent forces four years later.

La Roja have been the dominant force in the game since they won the European Championships in 2008. They backed that up with victory in South Africa and a second-straight win at the Euros in 2012. 

A 3-0 trouncing at the hands of Brazil in the 2013 Confederations Cup final gave the rest of the footballing world some hope that Spain's golden era may have come to an end. Even if the team is no longer head and shoulders above everyone else, they will still take some beating at the World Cup.

The majority of the players who won the 2010 edition are still on board. They went through qualifying undefeated, and this week's defeat of Italy was further evidence of their enduring class. 

The Netherlands, meanwhile, have persisted with the slightly more pragmatic, ruthless style of football that took them to the latter stages of the competition in South Africa, while still boasting an abundance of technically gifted individuals.

Despite the intimidating credentials of their group opponents, Chile have demonstrated over the last two years that they are a team capable of matching both of them.

Jorge Sampaoli's men play a brand of dynamic football that could see them challenge the world's best sides.

After a period of discontent under Claudio Borghi, Sampaoli has encouraged the attacking, attractive style of football that was first instilled in the Chilean side by Marcelo Bielsa in his time in charge there between 2007 and 2011. 

They may have lost 1-0 to Germany in Stuttgart this week, but the manner in which the South Americans dominated large periods of that game raised a few eyebrows across Europe.

Chile's game is based on slick passing and movement, much like Spain, but they play with more speed and directness than their European counterparts.

It's a high-risk way of operating that can sometimes leave the side exposed defensively but when it works, it can be devastatingly effective. And Sampaoli appears to have his charges very well drilled at the moment.

The midfield holds the key to the team's success, with talented and multi-functional players like Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Jorge Valdivia making up the Chilean engine room.

If they shine this summer, Spain, the Netherlands and Australia could find the South Americans difficult to contain, bearing in mind they also have the advantage of playing on their home continent. 

Considering the Chilean threat, the 2010 World Cup finalists are by no means guaranteed of advancing through to the knockout stages of the 2014 edition.

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