Copa America Preview: Chile Out To Avoid Defeat Against Panama And Seal Progression
Arturo Vidal has called on Chile to build on their Copa America Centenario victory over Bolivia as they look to seal progression to the knockout stages against Panama.
The defending champions made a stuttering start to the defence of their 2015 crown as they were beaten by Argentina in the opening game of Group D.
In a repeat of the final 12 months prior, Chile were unable to replicate their triumph and found themselves needing a win over Bolivia to boost their hopes of qualification.
That duly arrived, though it came courtesy of a controversial late penalty decision, and Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side now only need a point against Panama to secure their progression thanks to a superior goal difference.
Vidal, the scorer of both goals against Bolivia, insists they cannot afford to relax given Panama could finish in the top two with a victory in Philadelphia.
“Panama are physically very strong,” he told Radio Cooperativa.
“We are going to better prepare for the game and hopefully will be able to show all the quality we have.
“These matches are very difficult, you have to keep improving, starting now.”
Chile have been boosted by the return of Marcelo Diaz after a muscle injury, while Jean Beausejour (knee) is expected to overcome a knock sustained in training to feature.
Suspensions have ruled out four Panama players as they look to seal a historic progression in United States.
Felipe Baloy, Armando Cooper, and Blas Perez all picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament as they were hammered 5-0 by Argentina, while Anibal Godoy saw red in that reverse.
Panama are also shorn of striker Valentin Pimentel (hip) as they look to record a second win of the tournament – having beaten Bolivia 2-1 in their opener.
Head coach Hernan Gomez knows they face an uphill challenge to dethrone the holders – especially given their depleted numbers – but they will not change their approach.
“Chile has an advantage in every way,” he acknowledged. “They are the champions, and have greater experience in tournaments.
“They are one of the best teams in the world in recent times. But we will not change our style.”