Copa America Preview - Chile - Ecuador: Hosts look to get off to perfect start
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This year's Copa América hosts, Chile, will be hoping to get off to a perfect start as they go head-to-head with Ecuador on the opening day of the tournament. 

La Roja will be eager to build off an impressive World Cup showing, where they caught many critics out by surprise last summer and could have progressed further on in the tournament, if it was not for the penalty heroics of Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who saved his country in a tense shoot-out all but twelve months ago.

In ten friendly fixtures since the competition ended, Chile have won six, but recorded losses against two sides in this year's tournament, including the one that beat them (Brazil) in the Round of 16 previously. A 2-1 defeat at the hands of Uruguay, as well as a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Bolivia late last year are amongst the standout results from their recent outings, which they'll be hoping to improve upon. 

Apart from Brazil and Argentina, the latter of which boast having arguably the best player ever, Lionel Messi in their team, Chile are regarded highly in terms of one of the favourites to go all the way. Spurred on by their home crowd, is sure to give them belief that they can progress into the latter stages of the competition, and prove the doubters wrong, for the second time in quick succession. 

Chile captain and Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has insisted that although they did well in the World Cup, they'll want to improve on those displays shown and win, especially on home soil. "The World Cup left us bitter, because some players did not arrive in the best condition," referring to Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, who went into the tournament with a persistent knee problem. "We want to demonstrate, as we did in Brazil 2014, that we are a very strong team. I think we can improve so that we do not lack what we lacked in Brazil, and go further."

Go further? They definitely can do that, with the likes of Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez and Inter Milan's versatile defensive-minded midfielder Gary Medel in their ranks. That's completely forgetting the likes of Bravo, Vidal and Charles Aránguiz; all of which have proven their quality for both club and country over the past few years consistently.

Meanwhile Ecuador's boss, Gustavo Quinteros knows fully well that his side are the underdogs ahead of their clash with the hosts on Thursday evening. He stated: "The advantage that Chile have is [experience] working with the same coach and the same players, they are virtually the same team that played at the 2014 World Cup. That's that advantage they have - how to operate. They all know what they have to do and do it automatically."

The Ecuadorians will be less fancied, but although they are not as glamorous as La Roja, they are still a threat and have strengths of their own. They are known to be a physical team that like to break up play in midfield, and despite the unfortunate news that Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia is out of contention having undergone ankle surgery, Ecuador still have a few dangerous players in their frontline for the opposition to be worried about. Who, you may ask? Premier League forward duo Jefferson Montero (Swansea) and Enner Valencia (West Ham), for starters.

The opening match promises to be a cracking game, one you will not want to miss.


Chile: Bravo, Isla, Medel, Jara, Beausejour, Vidal, Pizarro, Aranguiz, Fernandez, Sánchez and Vargas.

Ecuador: Domínguez, Paredes, Ayoví, Erazo, Mina, Ibarra, Noboa, Lastra, Montero, Martinez, Valencia.  

PREDICTION: Chile 3-1 Ecuador. The hosts should have too much quality, and will most probably see off their opponents, as long as they get off to a good start. Alexis Sánchez and Eduardo Vargas up-top is a menace for any defence to deal with. 

Date and time: 12th of June, kick-off scheduled for a 00:30am start, UK time.

Stadium: Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos