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Preview: Venezuela vs. Chile - team news, lineups

Struggling Venezuela welcome Chile to Caracas on Tuesday, desperately seeking their first points - and goals - of the South American World Cup Qualifying campaign.

The visitors arrive in good spirits, having seen off Peru last week to claim their first win of an always arduous and highly-competitive section.

Inspired by a national legend who is still thriving at club level some 13 years after moving to Europe, Chile defeated an out-of-form Peru side to stay in touch with their competitors for a cherished qualifying spot.

From almost 30 yards, veteran midfielder Arturo Vidal found the top corner with a stunning strike to put Chile ahead, then before half time the Inter Milan man doubled the hosts' lead with an opportunistic finish.

Vidal's unstoppable howitzer helped him join a select club of midfielders to have registered 30 international goals, while former Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo became the first player in Chile's history to participate in 50 World Cup qualifiers.

La Roja have won five of their last six World Cup qualifiers against last Friday's opposition, so their home victory was not unexpected but still gives Reinaldo Rueda's charges a boost heading into Tuesday's Caracas clash.

Rueda has hit the headlines ahead of the game for responding spikily to star striker Alexis Sanchez's club side Inter, who had condemned the injury-plagued player's call-up. The Nerrazzuri subsequently responded, labelling the Chile coach's comments "unacceptable, offensive and not corresponding to reality".

However, a familiar club versus country spat will not distract from preparations for a tricky trip north to face obdurate, if limited, opponents.

Yet to qualify for a senior World Cup in their history - the only CONMEBOL nation which has never done so - valiant Venezuela battled admirably against Brazil in Sao Paulo but ultimately came up short. Roberto Firmino capitalised on a rare slip-up by La Vinotinto's defence to score the only goal of the game from close range.

While the Selecao's 100% record remains intact, Venezuela now sit alongside traditional makeweights Bolivia as the only two teams left in the region still searching for their first points.

Their last line of defence, 22-year-old goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez of Ligue 1 club RC Lens, is merely 1.75m tall but is considered a future target for Europe's top clubs.

Farinez, who already has 24 senior caps to his name, produced a number of attention-grabbing athletic saves and became the first goalkeeper to score at an Under-20 World Cup in 2017. He will likely be required throughout the 90 minutes against Chile's experienced attack.

Though Venezuela reached their highest-ever position (25th) in the maligned FIFA World Rankings at the end of last year - and are currently ranked 28th to Chile's 17th - they have struggled in the wake of former coach Rafael Dudamel's controversial departure.

Having only ever defeated Tuesday's opponents twice in 28 historical meetings - losing 21 times - it appears odds against the home side claiming the maximum points needed to stir any lingering hopes of a qualification push. Chile, meanwhile, will consider an away win eminently attainable.

Venezuela World Cup Qualifying - South America form: LLL
Venezuela form (all competitions): WWWLLL

Chile World Cup Qualifying - South America form: LDW
Chile form (all competitions): LDWLDW

Team News

Under-pressure Venezuela coach Jose Peseiro is unlikely to deviate from his favoured 4-3-3/4-5-1 setup, in which Salomon Rondon leads the line supported by shuttling runs from Yeferson Soteldo and Darwin Machis out wide.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres, just 20, impressed in the engine room dogfight against Brazil and will continue alongside veteran Tomas Rincon in the centre of the park.

For Chile, several stalwarts of their past glory years remain crucial members of Reinaldo Rueda's XI. Thirty-six-year-old ex-Birmingham City man Jean Beausejour and versatile Mauricio Isla - once of Juventus - should continue as full-backs in a four-man defensive line, but Rueda has been more flexible with his attacking formations since taking charge.

Talented schemer Charles Aranguiz misses out though amid acrimony arising from his club Bayer Leverkusen, whose sporting director has claimed the midfielder returned "battered" from international duty last time and that La Roja's approach to player preservation is "annoying".

For certain, Alexis Sanchez - whose presence in South America is also bemoaned by his club - will spearhead the attack, with help from Valladolid veteran Fabian Orellana.

Venezuela possible starting lineup:
Farinez; Rosales, Osorio, Angel, Feltscher; Moreno, Rincon, Casseres; Machis, Rondon, Soteldo

Chile possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Isla, Diaz, Maripan, Beausejour; Pulgar, Vidal, Baeza; Orellana, Sanchez, Meneses

Source: SportsMole 

 

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