Qualification began and Chile did not do well in the first double date. La Roja lost 3-1 to Uruguay (in Montevideo) and then played a goalless draw against Colombia (in Santiago).
And beyond the results, what the team performed under the leadership of Eduardo Berizzo raised some doubts and showed that they have a “small squad”. For the same reason, it was strange that three players with good performances abroad did not add a single minute in the two games.
Victor Felipe Mendez
The most emblematic case is that of Víctor Felipe Méndez. The former Unión Española midfielder is CSKA Moscow’s undisputed starter in Russia and had performed well in La Roja’s recent friendlies, giving the impression that he had earned a place in the starting eleven.
However, Berizzo chose options other than him. Marcelino Núñez beat him in Uruguay and Rodrigo Echeverría did it in the duel against the coffee farmers. The Argentine coach also preferred to give minutes to Charles Aránguiz, who started in Montevideo and then started against the Colombians in the second half. The “Prince” remained heavily in debt, but had warned that he did not feel he was at the level required by the qualifying tournaments.
In March, after the victory over Paraguay, Gary Medel praised the Valdivians in a dialogue with AS Chile. “He is a great player, a great teammate, he gives himself… Like ‘Monito’ (Alexander Aravena), he is present and future. “He is a very good person, we are happy with him,” said the “Pitbull” on this occasion.
After leaving Palmeiras, Benjamín Kuscevic went to Coritiba and quickly became a pillar of the Brazilian team. In the Paraná team, the former Universidad Católica is the undisputed regular in defense and has even contributed two goals in the last few weeks.
However, in La Roja, Berizzo again favored Guillermo Maripán, who had a good presence in France with Monaco but was heavily questioned for his performances in the Chilean team.
Kuscevic played in the starting lineup in the “Lasarte era” (games against Bolivia and Uruguay) and also added minutes in Eduardo Berizzo’s first friendlies in Asia.
The right-back was one of the big figures in the March friendly against Paraguay. The impression was given there that the former Palestino would retain the title in that position at the start of qualifying, but it seems Berizzo was never fully convinced.
Yes, what could have worked against him was that a few days before his move to La Roja, he signed with Baltika in Russia, where he had yet to add playing time. Soto was the undisputed starter in Argentina’s Huracán, but his commitment to Europe affected his continuity. His last game was on August 21st.
In the double-elimination round, “Toto” prevailed in her position against Nayel Mehssatou (against Uruguay) and Matías Catalán (against Colombia). The former Talca Rangers were not even on the bench in these games.