Chile v Bolivia: Sampaoli set to be without key trio

13 October 2014 15:28

Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli could be without up to three key players for his side’s international friendly against Bolivia on Wednesday.

Captain and first-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo returned to club Barcelona after breaking Chile’s all-time appearance record by winning his 85th cap in last Friday’s 3-0 win over Peru.

Defender Gary Medel, scorer of his country’s second goal against Peru, underwent emergency dental surgery after being elbowed by Ricardo Cruzado in that game and also looks set to be unavailable.

Star midfielder Arturo Vidal could also miss out, with Sampaoli revealing that the Juventus man’s ongoing knee problem flared up during last week’s match.

Vidal has struggled to regain full fitness after having a knee operation towards the end of last season.

The 27-year-old has been restricted to just three Serie A starts for Juve this term and, although he completed 90 minutes against Peru, appears unlikely to feature in Antofagasta.

“Vidal finished the game feeling knee pain,” Sampaoli said.

“We’ll see if we will have him available after assessing his condition.”

In truth, Chile should still have too much quality for a Bolivia side who are in woeful form, even if Medel and Vidal join Bravo in missing out.

Xabier Azkargorta’s men were beaten 1-0 by Mexico in Colorado, United States, last month – their 13th consecutive game without a win.

Furthermore, Bolivia have not won away from home since a 1-0 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg back in March 2007.

One man Azkargorta will definitely be without is Ramiro Ballivian, who was hit with a six-month ban from international football after being sent off for aggressive behaviour towards an official towards the end of the defeat to Mexico.

In contrast to Bolivia’s recent fortunes, Chile are undefeated in nine fixtures on home soil – with Argentina being the last side to win there courtesy of a 2-1 success almost exactly two years ago.

Striker Eduardo Vargas notched a brace against Peru and Sampaoli will expect him, along with talisman Alexis Sanchez, to inspire the 2015 Copa America hosts to a seventh straight win over Bolivia.