Colombia’s Uribe delighted to encounter ‘ball-playing’ Chile

SAO PAULO (AFP) – Colombia midfielder Mateus Uribe insisted on Wednesday he was happy with the quarter-final draw that pits his in-form side against reigning champions Chile at the Copa America.

Colombia stormed through the group phase with the only perfect record to top Group B but arguably landed the toughest draw of the pool winners.

Chile finished second in Group C after losing their final pool match 1-0 against uruguay.

And Uribe thinks the holders’ style will suit his side.

“Of the two opponents we could have got, personally, for me, Chile are much better for us or for our game because they’re a team who pass the ball around really well, keeping it on the floor,” said Uribe, who plys his club trade with America in Mexico.

“But they also leave spaces, they also let you play and we’ve been using the ball very well.

“We’ve been very direct and that’s helped us to negate our rivals’ game.”

Colombia’s player Mateus Uribe speaks during a press conference
Chile’s Alexis Sanchez takes part in a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil. – PHOTOS: AFP

However, he warned that Colombia’s results “haven’t made us a perfect team”.

“We have to make sure that other teams can’t keep the ball from us, we need to be direct and more incisive in attack.”

Chile may be the “champions, but we’re not inferior,” said Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez, set to partner Yerry Mina in the centre of defence.

“Everyone knows the quality of players we have in attack, at any moment he can hurt teams,” added the 23-year-old.

Colombia’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal up front.

He’s likely to play Juan Cuadrado and Roger Martinez on the flanks, with James Rodriguez pulling the strings in the hole behind either Radamel Falcao or Duvan Zapata in the centre-forward role at Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena.

History is against Colombia, though, having never before beaten Chile in the Copa knock-out stages on three previous occasions.

And veteran Chile forward Jose Pedro Fuenzalida believes the champions have the kind of players who always perform when it matters most in the likes of Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal of Barcelona and Eduardo Vargas, the joint active leading scorer in Copa history.

“We’re very strong mentally with top class players on a world level who always show it on such occasions,” he said.