Copa America: Two-time reigning champion Chile begins title defence against Japan, Chile will start its bid for a third successive Copa America title in Sao Paulo on Monday when the side goes up against Japan in its Group C opener.
La Roja defeated Argentina on penalties in both the 2015 and 2016 finals, though much has changed since then. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi departed after the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with Reinaldo Rueda appointed as his replacement.
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The Colombian has won just five of his 13 games since taking charge in January 2018, though he has a squad containing a plethora of famous faces for the tournament in Brazil.
Arturo Vidal is one of the senior players included and the Barcelona midfielder believes Chile can come good at just the right time to defend its crown, which would see the nation join Argentina as the only nations to win three in a row.
“This squad should be feared, from the beginning to the final,” Vidal told the media. “We hope it’s going to be something amazing, but we’re going to take it game by game.
“Everything is starting from new; a new process, new players, new coaches. It took us many days to talk about and clear up things.”
Japan, meanwhile, is a guest of the CONMEBOL for a second time, having previously played at the 1999 tournament in Paraguay.
Coach Hajime Moriyasu has an impressive record at the helm, winning 12 of his 16 games, but will have to try to qualify for the knockout stages with a young squad that was picked with the 2020 Olympic Games in mind.
Teenager Takefusa Kubo, who completed a move to Real Madrid on Friday, is one to look out for, while goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and captain Shinji Okazaki provide some much-needed experience.
Japan have been invited to the tournament alongside 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar for the 2019 competition and will be hoping to improve on their group-stage exit in 1999.
The Samarai Blue were the first team from outside the Americas to participate in the tournament but picked up just one point from their three group matches in Paraguay.
They were also due to play at the 2011 edition but withdrew from the competition following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March of that year.
Hajime Moriyasu’s side have an impressive head-to-head record against Chile, with a 4-0 victory and a goalless draw from two matches, but have not played the South American outfit since May 2009.
But Japan have only failed to score in three of their last 21 games and odds of 23/20 for them to net at anytime looks a solid first Japan vs Chile prediction.
Japan arrive in Brazil in stunning form having won a staggering 17 of their 21 matches since the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup.
The Samarai Blue’s campaign in Russia could have been even better had they not let a 2-0 lead slip against eventual third-placed finishers Belgium as they fell apart in the last 21 minutes of their last-16 clash.
They have since reached the Asian Cup final, winning every game before succumbing to Qatar in a 3-1 defeat in the United Arab Emirates finale.
One interesting fact which comes into play ahead of the match-up with Chile is that during the last 11 matches, both teams have scored more goals in the second half than in the first 45 minutes.
Japan’s record has seen more goals scored in the second period in six of their games since the beginning of the Asian Cup, while seven of Chile’s last 11 matches have seen more goals in the second 45 minutes.
This comes into our thinking for the second of our Japan vs Chile betting tips with the most goals to be scored in the second half at 11/10.
Chile have almost become the forgotten force of world football after failing to secure their place at the 2018 World Cup.
La Roja progressed to the Confederations Cup final in July 2017 – the warm-up event for the World Cup finals the following summer – but were defeated 1-0 by Germany.
They looked on course to return to Russia but they fell to a heavy 3-0 home loss to Paraguay and 1-0 reverse at Bolivia to throw their place in the finals in doubt.
Chile won 2-1 against Ecuador in the penultimate qualifier to sit in fifth and leave their destiny in their own hands, but they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Brazil while a draw between Colombia and Peru saw them drop out of the play-off position and miss out on a place in the finals.
It is not all bad news though. They secured their first ever Copa America title on home soil in 2015 after winning 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out against Argentina, before retaining their title a year later in almost carbon copy fashion. In a repeat of the previous year’s final, this time they won 4-2 on penalties after both matches finished goalless.
They will be keen to banish the failings of not reaching the World Cup with a strong start to their double defence and Chile to win plus over 2.5 total goals is our final selection from the Japan vs Chile odds at3/2.