Holders Chile will kick off their defense of the title against Japan, guests at this year’s South American Championship.
Japan and Chile go head to head at the Estadio do Morumbi in Sao Paulo tonight, to close the first round of the 2019 Copa America group stage.
The Blue Samurai will be part of the South American Championship for the second time in history, after winning only one point at the 1999 Copa America in Paraguay.
Chile, on the other hand, will be looking to win their third consecutive Copa America this summer. La Roja won the competition in its last two editions in 2015 on home soil and in 2016 in the United States – the first ever tournament played outside South America.
Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu decided to travel to Brazil with quite an anonymous squad, as there are 16 out of the 23 players who are yet to make an appearance for the national team.
Shinji Okazaki is their most famous player, while Real Madrid’s latest signing Takefusa Kubo is the one to keep an eye on.
— jfa_en (@jfa_en) June 14, 2019
Chile’s squad is pretty experienced, including six players with more than 100 caps for the national team.
The biggest problem for Reinaldo Rueda however, would be the poor form of their most capped player and top goalscorer of all time, Alexis Sanchez.
What did the managers say
Hajime Moriyasu says his players will try to win the title, although almost all of them are going to make their debut for the Japan National Team.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the Copa America, it’s one of the highest level tournaments in the world,” the coach told reporters in Sao Paulo.
“How can we show our strength and which way we play, that’s what we want to find out in this tournament. We will play in order to win the title, but first and foremost for us is to play game by game and do our best in each, then think of the next one.”
Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda named the players who will start La Roja’s Copa America opener against Japan tonight.
😅 Primer día de entrenamiento en Sao Paulo
🔥 #LaRoja tiene un sólo objetivo: el triunfo sobre Japón
— Selección Chilena (@LaRoja) June 15, 2019
“Arias, Isla, Medel, Maripan, Beausejour, Pulgar, Aranguiz, Vidal, Fuenzalida, Vargas and Alexis Sanchez.
“Most probably, this is the formation, I hope that the coming days do not alter that determination and that there are no imponderables,” he said via AS.
Chile are the most recent Copa America champions, winning back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
Those are their only two triumphs at the South American Championship though, and the only times they’ve reached the final in the last 30 years.
Japan are the most successful national team in Asia, having won the Asian Cup record four times in history.
They reached the final in the latest edition of the competition, only to suffer their first defeat in the decider, losing 3-1 to Qatar – another gest nation of the 2019 Copa America.
Both sides have never met in an official game before, with Japan winning 4-0 in their most recent encounter 10 years ago.