Tactic Talk: Can Chile’s set-piece threat keep them one step ahead?

Chile began their quest for their first Copa America title with a win, coming from a goal behind to claim a 2-1 victory over Mexico. While the Chileans will be delighted with their spirited fight back to take victory in their opening match, the methods behind their two goals could well prove crucial throughout their Copa America campaign.

Falling a goal behind to Nestor Aurajo’s looping header close to half-time, Chile emerged from the interval looking to overturn the deficit. With the much sought-after Alexis Sanchez at the heart of the action, his side pushed for the equaliser. The breakthrough came midway through the second-half, as a four-way scramble from a Chilean corner kick, substitute Esteban Paredes lunged to stab home at the far post. Six minutes later, Chile once again found success from a corner kick, the initial ball in, identical to that which brought about the first goal, was met by a towering header from Arturo Vidal to secure the three points to leave his side top of Group C after the first round of matches.

So far this year’s Copa America tournament has been a tense affair. Four draws in the opening six matches of the competition have seen only Chile and Columbia take maximum points from their opening fixtures and sides such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, among the favourites for the tournament, opening their campaigns with disappointing results. As sides such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru look to organise their sides to blunt the vast attacking threats of their rivals, many matches and results may come down to a more tactical approach than seen in the tournament in recent years. With Argentina also finding themselves behind to a deft flick from a Bolivian corner-kick, set-pieces look to be vital to all sides involved in this year’s competition.

While the aforementioned sides will be expected to improve on their initial struggles in the tournament, should the opening round of matches set a precedent for the remainder of the competition, sides known for their more flamboyant, flowing style of football, may have to adapt and look to the effective, if less attractive methods to win matches and secure their progression. While Chile will almost certainly look to build their attacking play around the likes of Sanchez, utilising the inclusion of one of the world’s in-demand attacking players, Chile have led the way thus far in finding an alternative method when faced with a stubborn opposition. While Chile themselves will be looking to improve on their opening display which saw them fall a goal behind, as one of two teams to win out of the 12 that have competed so far, there will be other camps with a far more tense atmosphere following their disappointing opening results. In tournaments with some of the world’s biggest names competing to protect and enhance the reputations of world football’s biggest national sides, this year’s Copa America could well see set-pieces prove more crucial than ever before.

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