Chile eager to make Copa history against Peru, says Vidal

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AFP) – Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said the reigning Copa America champions are focussed on making history ahead of their semi-final against Peru today (8.30am Brunei time).

The defending champions are aiming for a third continental title in a row, a feat only achieved once before by Argentina in successive years from 1945-47.

“We want to leave our legacy as triple champions, that’s our dream,” said the Barcelona midfielder, an integral part of Chile’s only two previous Copa successes.

“That’s why we want to play our best match of the Copa against Peru. It would be something historic for us to get to the final and that’s our aim.”

Chile faced Peru in the 2015 semi-finals on home soil when they won 2-1 before beating Argentina on penalties in the final for their first ever continental success.

“We need to play the perfect match, to win it with authority,” added Vidal.

“Peru have great teamwork, they play well, very similar to Colombia” who Chile beat on penalties in the quarter-final.

“That’s why it will be a very difficult match and fantastic to play in it.”

Arturo Vidal controls the ball during a training session. – AFP

Vidal pointed to Peru captain and striker Paolo Guerrero as the biggest threat Chile will face.

Guerrero and Chile’s Eduardo Vargas, with 12 goals each, are the top two still active scorers in Copa history.

“He’s a player who knows how to play against four defenders and it always takes a lot out of us to mark him,” said Vidal.

Vargas may never have had the chance to add to his Copa ledger, but for a change of heart by Chile’s Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda.

Vargas, known as ‘Turboman’ for his incredible engine, fell out of favour with Rueda for disciplinary reasons following a friendly with Sweden in 2018.

He spent almost 18 months overlooked by the Colombian before being recalled for the Copa America following 17 goals in 49 matches for his Mexican club side Tigres last season.

It was a good move as Vargas has been electric in the tournament alongside a rejuvenated Alexis Sanchez and Jose Fuenzalida in a three-pronged attack.

Peru are clear underdogs having been surprise qualifiers for the semi-finals.

They arrived in the knock-out stages demoralised following a 5-0 thrashing by hosts Brazil in their final group match and progressed to the semi-finals on penalties, but only after Uruguay had three goals ruled out for offside in their quarter-final.

Even so, coach Ricardo Gareca said there’s no hint of an inferiority complex amongst his players.

“We’re in the right conditions to tackle this kind of match,” he said. “Maybe it’s a bigger match than the others before but we can play better.”