Arturo Vidal is charged with leading Chile to glory again this summer.
Arturo Vidal is charged with leading Chile to glory again this summer.

Copa America Centenario preview: Chile and Vidal aiming to retain trophy

Crowned champions on home turf little under 11 months ago, Chile's most talented side in generations - powered by three Bundesliga stars - is looking to retain their mantle as kings of the Americas at the Copa America Centenario in the United States this summer.

Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Eduardo Vargas were all influential as La Roja lifted the Copa America for the first time ever last July, and - buoyed by fine seasons in the German top flight - each is set to star again in the States this summer. Chile do come into the tournament in something of a state of flux, however. Inspirational coach Jorge Sampaoli, who had forged a close bond with his side, stepped down earlier this year and was replaced by Juan Antonio Pizzi. The Argentinian is regarded as a fine tactician but it remains to be seen whether he can lead the side ranked fifth in the world to the same heights as Sampaoli did.

"Back with the national team! With my brothers"

Bundesliga star in focus

It is highly probable that Vidal will go down as one of Chile's greatest ever players. For proof of this, it is enough to look at his performances in the last 12 months: the 29-year-old scored three times en route to Chile's maiden triumph last summer - as well as slotting a pressure penalty against Argentina in the final - before capping a fine first season at FC Bayern München by winning the Bundesliga and DFB Cup double. Expect Vidal to bring his customary tenacity and powerful shooting to Chile's midfield, as well as to demonstrate his often-underrated playmaking skills on the grandest stage.

Other Bundesliga representation

Click on the player's name for more information.

Charles Aranguiz (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Eduardo Vargas (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)

"Photos from yesterday's training session! Ready to give it all for my country! Come on Chile!"

Tournament aim

As holders, Chile's aim is retaining their trophy. "The aim is to fight to try to win the trophy [again]," Aranguiz told in an exclusive interview recently (click here for that one). "We're the champions, and not much time has passed since the last tournament. We want to show why we were champions last time around." Handed a manageable group - despite the presence of Argentina - Chile should reach the quarter-finals at the very least. How they do there will largely depend on the first game against Argentina, however. If Juan Antonio Pizzi's side overcome La Albiceleste then they would face an easier last-eight draw (likely to be Uruguay). If they lose to their perennial rivals on Monday, then they could face favourites Mexico (click here for a Mexico tournament preview).

What they're saying

Arturo Vidal (after Chile lost their final warm-up 1-0 to Mexico in San Diego): "We were better than Mexico but the result doesn't show that. We have to be ready to bounce back; we can definitely improve. The most important games start on Monday though. We are missing Jorge [Sampaoli] and a couple of other players, too."

Juan Antonio Pizzi (Chile coach): "There are few players at the level of Vidal [in the tournament]."


6 June 2016 (kick-off 22:00 ET/02:00 GMT): vs Argentina

10 June 2016 (kick-off 19:00 ET/23:00 GMT): vs Bolivia

14 June 2016 (kick-off 20:00 ET/030:00 GMT): vs Panama

Possible line-up

Bravo (c) - Isla, Medel, Jara, Mena - Aranguiz, Silva, Vidal - Vargas, Pinilla, Alexis

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi