Alexis Sanchez looking forward to ‘playing against my good friend Neymar’ at Emirates Stadium
London // Chile forward Alexis Sanchez plans to make the most of home advantage as the Arsenal star plots on revenge against Brazil in Sunday’s friendly at the Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez is still smarting from Chile’s World Cup exit at the hands of the hosts less than 12 months ago and he would love to make amends by leading his country to victory over their South American rivals at the home of his current club.
The 26-year-old, who moved to north London from Barcelona last year, scored Chile’s equaliser in a dramatic last-16 clash in Belo Horizonte, but it was Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar who finished as the hero after saving two penalties, including one from Sanchez, to seal a 3-2 win in the shoot-out.
With that in mind, Sanchez has set his sights on handing Brazil, including his good friend and former Barca team-mate Neymar, a first defeat in eight matches under new coach Dunga in front of a 60,000-capacity crowd at the Emirates.
“I’m so excited and honoured to be playing for the national team of Chile, against our great rivals Brazil, in front of the incredible Arsenal fans at Emirates Stadium,” Sanchez said.
“I also look forward to playing against my good friend Neymar. Matches between Brazil and Chile are always exciting encounters, and for me, to play this game at Emirates Stadium will make the match even more special.”
Hired for a second spell as Brazil coach in the aftermath of their humiliating 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat against Germany last year, Dunga has led Brazil to seven successive friendly victories, netting 17 goals in the process.
The most impressive of those wins came in Paris on Thursday when the Selecao recovered from a goal down to beat France 3-1 thanks to goals from Oscar, Neymar and Luiz Gustavo.
It was the kind of creative and courageous display that suggested Dunga has managed to rid his squad of the psychological scars inflicted by their traumatising World Cup exit on home soil.
Dunga, who captained Brazil to World Cup glory in 1994 and coached the team that lost in the last eight in South Africa in 2010, is overseeing a period of transition as his team build towards the Copa America in Chile in June.
Only two members of his starting line-up against France, Oscar and Luiz Gustavo, began that defeat to Germany, although six of his side were in the squad at last year’s World Cup.
“This year will be very important for us, when we will play the Copa America and the qualifiers for the World Cup will also get started,” Dunga said.
“Playing against Chile will be one more opportunity for the team to get ready for the next challenges.
“Brazil vs Chile is always a good game and I am sure that all fans will see a great show in London.”
While Brazil are on the up, Chile, who haven’t beaten their rivals in 13 attempts dating back to 2000, head into the fixture keen for a morale-boosting win.
They slumped to a surprise 2-0 friendly defeat against Iran in Austria in midweek -- a second loss in three games for Jorge Sampaoli’s side.
The Chile boss is likely to restore Sanchez and Juventus star Arturo Vidal to his line-up after they both started on the bench against Iran.
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Published: March 28, 2015 04:00 AM