Arturo Vidal warned every team in the Copa America that defending champions Chile are to be feared “from the beginning to the final”.
Following back-to-back triumphs in 2015 and 2016, Chile are on the hunt for a third consecutive Copa America crown in Brazil this summer.
More recently, however, things haven’t gone quite so well for La Roja following their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Therefore, head coach Reinaldo Rueda has introduced some new fresh talent in a big squad overhaul.
Quite a few members of Chile’s “golden generation” are now no more having past their peak days. Although Vidal is one of the lucky ones to avoid the chop.
At 32, though, the Barcelona midfielder is now one of oldest guys in the dressing room. So, Rueda may expect him to take on more of a leadership role to help out the young players.
Despite the massive changes, however, Vidal is convinced Chile are still a force to be reckoned with.
“This squad should be feared, from the beginning to the final,” said Vidal, according to Goal.
“We hope it’s going to be something amazing, but we’re going to take it game by game.
“Everything is starting from new: a new process, new players, new coaches.
“It took us many days to talk about and clear up things.”
Chile will begin the defence of their Copa America title on Tuesday against Japan in Sao Paulo in Group C.
The East Asian team are special guests of the South American football federation (Conmebol) to make up 12 teams for the competition as there are only 10 South American sides.
It will be Japan’s first time in the Copa America since 1999. However, head coach Hajime Moriyasu has only called-up an inexperienced squad for the competition. 17 of the 23 players in the team, in fact, are yet to even make their debuts.
Among them, however, is Real Madrid’s newest signing 18-year-old Takefusa Kubo, who is nicknamed as “Japanese Messi”.
“[Kubo] is a player with real quality, there’s a reason he’s at Real Madrid,” said Vidal.
“We’ve seen him, analyzed him really well and we know how to stop this player.”
“Japan are an organized team, they’re quick and we have to be careful, concentrate and when they come out to play we have to attack them really quickly because afterwards they go into a 4-5-1 and it’s really hard to score a goal.”