Group B in focus: Chile

While all the focus may be on Spain and the Netherlands, the Socceroos’ first match in Brazil is against Chile, ranked 14th in the world.

While all the focus may be on Spain and the Netherlands, the Socceroos- first match in Brazil is against Chile, ranked 14th in the world.

On paper, it may seem the least difficult of the three fixtures in Group B, but Chile, spearheaded by Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez, are far from easy opposition. Also in their ranks are winger Mark Gonzalez, and Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal.

This will be the Chileans tenth appearance at the FIFA World Cup. Their first was in the inaugural tournament in 1930 and they were a part of the 2010 tournament in South Africa, where they were drawn in Group H with Spain, Honduras and Switzerland.

They beat Honduras 1-0 in their opening match, sealing their first World Cup win since 1962.

Curiously, Chile qualified for the knock out stages in France '98 undefeated, but did so with three draws, before going down 4-1 to Brazil.

The Seleção crushed Chile-s dreams in 2010 as well. Chile had followed their win over Honduras with another 1-0 win, this time against Switzerland.

They again qualified for the Round of 16, despite losing to the eventual winners, Spain, but Brazil was a step too far for Chile, who lost 3-0.

Chile qualified for Brazil 2014 comfortably, eventually finishing four points behind CONMEBOL winners Argentina and only two points behind second placed Colombia.

Despite losing six games, Chile finished third, as they claimed nine wins and a draw with a goal difference of +4. They finished ahead of Uruguay, despite losing to them 4-0 (Luis Suarez scored all the goals) in their third match. Chile did beat Uruguay in the reverse fixture though, in the highlight of their qualification series.

The Chileans best finish at a FIFA World Cup is third, in the 1962 tournament that they hosted. That tournament is known for the infamous, ill-tempered, Battle of Santiago.

Chile beat Italy 2-0 in one of the most brutal matches of all time. Italians Giorgio Ferrini and Mario David were both sent off, the latter for kicking Leonel Sanchez in the head. David-s kick was in retaliation to being punched by Sanchez a few minutes earlier, something that was missed by the referee and his assistants - some things never change.

The match was refereed by Englishman Ken Aston, who, appropriately, went on to pioneer the use of yellow and red cards, which were first used in the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

June 14 is the date set for the opening fixture of the Socceroos campaign.

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