- Chile have the highest average squad age at Russia 2017
- Their group opponents are three of the four youngest teams
- “Achievements are what make you favourites,” says Gonzalo Jara
If you look at the average age of the teams taking part at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, you will see that Chile, at 29.1 years, have the oldest squad in the competition.
You will also see that La Roja have been drawn in a group with three of the four youngest squads: Germany at 24.4, Cameroon at 25.7 and Australia at 26.7, who are slightly older than New Zealand at 26.2.
Those statistics beg the question: what role will experience play at the tournament? “It doesn’t guarantee a single thing,” Chile central defender Gonzalo Jara told FIFA.com.
An undisputed starter for Chile, Jara added: “It’s not something that’s going to influence a result because the teams here all know what it means to win a title. Just because we’ve got experience, it doesn’t mean to say we’re any more likely to end up winning.”
That said, there are many who believe that a squad with two FIFA World Cup™ competitions and two Copa America wins under its belt more than deserve to be tipped as favourites.
“Achievements are what make you favourites,” said Jara. “While it’s true that the teams that play the best don’t always get the results, we have played well and won. We’ve achieved things in a way that has captivated our fans and which has attracted praise from other national teams and coaches.”
When asked how Chile will look to deal with the extra pressure that comes with being favourites, Jara said: “By staying grounded in successfully renewing ourselves. It’s tough to stay at the top, if you play the same way all the time.”
Gonzalo Jara: fact file
- Club: Universidad de Chile
- *Age: 31 *
- International caps: 102 (third in his country’s all-time list)
- International goals: 3
Strength in numbers
Chile boast world-class players with the power to excite crowds, such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, the type of players who can make the difference and whom not every team possesses.
“They’re out of the ordinary if you ask me, and they’re up there with the best,” said Jara. “These days, though, it’s the team that makes all the difference. When we play as a team, and back up our individual strengths, we can be very strong.”
As Jara went on to say, that collective ability was one of the keys to Chile’s success at the last two Copa America tournaments, which were both short competitions with a format similar to that of the Confederations Cup.
“We started well in the Copa America in Chile, but we didn’t do well in our opening two games at the Copa Centenario, which put everything we’d achieved before in doubt," Jara said. "When we realised that we had to go back to being a team, we went on to do what we did.”
As Jara added, there is no secret to the other key to their success: “Playing well!”
Jara on Chile’s opening match against Cameroon
“Their three front players break very fast and they try to play on the counter. Our game might suit them, as we sometimes leave ourselves exposed because of the way we attack. Keeping hold of the ball and finishing off our moves properly will be vital.”