Our match prediction:
Chile recovered well from the opening loss to Argentina to dominate the Bolivia game, and they eventually recorded a much needed victory, but only after being awarded a controversial penalty in the eighth minute of injury time. Arturo Vidal kept his cool to score the second goal of the game and secure invaluable three points, with La Roja now needing one point to qualify for the second stage. And even though they will attempt to record a win and thus avoid any surprises, that will be no easy task as Panama have been showing a great deal of promise of late. Granted, Los Canaleros were hammered by Argentina in the second group game, but they had beaten Bolivia in the opener and they seem to have what it takes to frustrate out-of-form Chile. Even with ten men on the pitch, Panama matched Argentina for large periods of the game, that is unless Leo Messi was introduced, and we predict they will share spoils with La Roja.
Highligted Player (Matias Fernandez):
Matias Fernandez was born in Argentina but there was never a doubt that he would turn up for Chile. The 30-year-old attacking midfielder started his senior professional career with Colo-Colo in 2004 and was pivotal to the Chilean club winning the 2006 Clausura tournament. He would then go on to sign for Spanish side Villarreal after spurning advances from many top clubs. But his time at Villarreal was mostly spent on bench eventually leaving for Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2009. He remained an important part of their attacking unit and started earning plaudits for his skills. In 2012 he moved to Italian club Fiorentina. The versatile midfielder is renowned for his dribbling skills and as a free-kick specialist. He already has 71 caps with the Chilean national team and has appeared in the 2010 World Cup and four Copa America tournaments so far. Fernandez was also chosen as ‘South American Footballer of the Year’ in 2006.
Highlighted Team (Panama):
Established in 1937, the Panama national team is a member of CONCACAF confederation which has seen their reputation grow significantly over the past decade. Los Canaleros finished as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 Gold Cup respectively, while they also reached the fourth round for the 2006 and 2014 World Cup CONCACAF qualifications in that order. Panama were denied their place in the play-offs in 2014 in the last 90 seconds of the ultimate match with USA as they conceded two late goals in stoppage time as they crashed out of the qualification. Los Canaleros are heading into the Copa America Centenario as the winners of the qualifying play-offs and under the guidance of former Colombia and Ecuador head coach Henan Dario Gomez they will try to build on their most recent momentum. Midfielder Gabriel Gomez is the most capped player for Panama with his 125 appearances since 2003, while Luis Tejada is the team’s top scorer with 42 goals in 94 appearances so far.