Chile simply overwhelmed Colombia during the opening exchanges, but Colombia went on to dominate the rest of the game.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman named a largely unchanged side in a 4-2-3-1, with James Rodriguez playing as the crucial number 10.
Chile adopted the expected 4-3-3, but were missing 2 key midfielders in Arturo Vidal and Marcelo Diaz. Francisco Silva and Pedro Hernandez started in their places.
Chile Win Game With Quick Transitions
After witnessing Chile crush a Mexico side which tried to go toe-to-toe with their intense pressing game, there was no doubt that Jose Pekerman would set out his side to play on the counter-attack. Colombia started with a 4-2-3-1 on paper, but this became a 4-4-2 off the ball, with James Rodriguez dropping into the left of midfield.
Chile started as the better team, pressing up high and forcing Colombia into their shell. Of course, Colombia is suited to sitting back and playing on the counter, Pekerman employed this conservative approach for most of the tournament.
The issue for Colombia, then, was in dealing with Chile’s transitions. Indeed, both of the goals were not a result of Chile’s possession play, but their ability to regain the ball as Colombia committed players forward in attacking transitions, and then storming the Colombian box.
Even while struggling to launch attacks, and getting caught out by Chile’s counter-counters, Colombia still had the players to deal with Chile. It was simple defensive mistakes which cost them. The full-backs in particular could be faulted for the goals, they were poor in dealing with Alexis Sanchez and Jose Fuenzalida’s runs; slightly better marking, which they demonstrated after the first 15 minutes, could have prevented both goals.
After Chile went up 2-0, Colombia improved. The front 4 pushed up to press Chile deep in their half, and the full backs, in particular, were far better in their marking. Chile’s midfield, while far from substandard, was also not the same without Arturo Vidal.
Chile ended the first half with more of the ball, however, the game was being played in their half. Colombia had created more chances, yet none of them were great opportunities, and Chile didn’t commit the mistakes which their opponents did. A decent rearguard effort, exemplified by Claudio Bravo’s 4 consecutive saves at the end of the first half, ensured that they headed into the break level.
A late goal might have set the stage for a brilliant first half, but it never arrived. Coupled with the two hour delay due to inclement weather, it was a great half for Chile.
Colombia pressed high once more, and were far better in recovering and keeping the ball in transitions. But once more, they struggled to create clear chances, with a penalty shout and James Rodriguez’s long-shot presenting their best opportunities to score. Chile were reinvigorated as well, and didn’t concede chances through lapses in concentration.
Carlos Sanchez’s second yellow card in the 60th minute essentially killed off the game as a contest. Sanchez had functioned as a destroyer for most of the tournament, but was asked to play further forward as Colombia chased the game, forcing him into reckless fouls to prevent counters.
Carlos Bacca came on in the 82nd minute, and Colombia continued to dominate, but he would’ve been more useful when his side needed good finishing. The game ultimately descended into a broken, physical contest.
A fantastic start by Chile, although exacerbated by Colombia’s defensive errors, ensured that the contest was settled within 15 minutes. Colombia proceeded to dominate the game, yet were kept out by an in-form Claudio Bravo and struggled to create truly significant chances.
Chile, on the other hand, have secured their place in a rematch of last year’s final. The defending champions struggled after going ahead, although they lost 1 midfielder to injury and 1 to suspension before the game, and lost one during the course of the match as well. Despite Jorge Sampaoli’s resignation, they still play the most aggressive, attacking and even cohesive football in the world.
If they play the same way in what is likely to be a final with few goals, as has been the trend in recent years, its hard to bet against them winning the tournament.