Copa America 2016

Chile must cope with Vidal's absence in semis

CHICAGO • Chile must find a player with the dynamism Arturo Vidal showed in their 7-0 rout of Mexico when they face Colombia without the suspended midfielder in today's Copa America Centenario semi-final in Chicago.

Vidal, the key man in the holders' improvement after a poor start to the tournament, was booked for a second time against the Mexicans and will be sorely missed when they face the Colombians.

The 29-year-old is the true leader of the Chile team captained by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, runs the midfield, gets into scoring positions, is good with his head and is an aggressive ball winner.

Colombia, though, will not allow themselves to relax despite Vidal's absence and are prepared for a pressing game from Chile like the one that undid Mexico regardless of who replaces Vidal, whose role is likely to be taken by Charles Aranguiz.

"They have great players. Chile isn't just Vidal," Colombia midfielder Daniel Torres said. "We can't be confident because Vidal won't be there, we have to be very careful because surely his replacement will have the same characteristics."

Chile are marginally the favourites with a more settled team facing few changes since they won the title for the first time when they hosted the tournament last year.

Colombia stopper David Ospina, the outstanding goalkeeper of the tournament so far, said: "As far as a favourite goes, it's the team that does things better that will get the better result.

"Chile have been doing things very well in recent times and that's why they are champions of the last Copa America and that says a lot."

Ospina, who also plays for Premier League club Arsenal, pinpointed Chile's ability to turn defence into attack swiftly as a concern.

"They are very fast and effective when they transition from defence into attack and their players play for some of the best clubs in the world," he said.

Colombia struggled against Peru before winning their quarter-final on penalties but are a better side than they were last year and Chile will have to work hard to cope with their counter-attacks.

They will hope for a big performance from James Rodriguez, the Real Madrid forward who has so far failed to reproduce the sort of attacking brilliance which made him one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Chile must cope with Vidal's absence in semis'. Print Edition | Subscribe