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FIFA World Cup Preview: Chile v Australia

12 June 2014 15:17

Chile will give Arturo Vidal until the last minute to prove his fitness ahead of their FIFA World Cup opener against Australia.

The condition of the Juventus star has dominated Chile's pre-tournament build-up, with his availability remaining unclear ahead of Friday's Group B clash at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.

Vidal underwent minor surgery on a knee complaint at the end of the club season, and has been struggling with inflammation on the injury.

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli will take heart from the 27-year-old's involvement in training on Wednesday - the first time he was able to do so since a brief cameo in the 2-0 friendly victory over Northern Ireland last Thursday.

There was also a question mark over the fitness of Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez - who has been struggling with a shoulder problem - but he looks set to be involved, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is hoping Vidal can also participate.

"We count on our style, the group above the individuals," he said. "But hopefully Arturo Vidal will play."

Chile are set for a ninth appearance at the World Cup finals, with their best result coming when they finished third on home soil in 1962.

Sampaoli is hoping to improve on Chile's showing in South Africa four years ago, when they were knocked out by 2014 hosts Brazil in the round of 16.

And Bravo is convinced that the 2010 tournament will stand the team in good stead this time around, adding: "The team improved since the last World Cup until today. That experience helps us a lot."

Australia, meanwhile, are preparing for their fourth World Cup and are considered rank outsiders in a daunting pool that also contains the nations who contested the 2010 World Cup final - Spain and the Netherlands.

Chile will start as strong favourites on Friday, but Australia midfielder Tim Cahill insists his team have no fear.

"We have to attack," he said.

"We've said time and time again if we are to make an impact we have to play football, and at the same time hopefully that will get us chances that will lead to goals.

"I think we've prepared like we would for any other game. It's important for us, we want to try and get everything ready and prepare as best we can."

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