Fabrice Ondoa stood tall in Cameroon’s goal before Arturo Vidal’s late header gave Chile a big victory in their first match of Group B. VAR technology was put in use once more to controversially take a goal away from Chile, but the South American champs still pulled off a 1-0 victory.
What are the takeaways from this one?
VAR was front and center once again
Hate it or love it, the Video Assistant Referee is here to stay. Eduardo Vargas’ first half strike looked absolutely perfectly timed, and it was both a fantastic run and finish from Arturo Vidal and the Jordan-tatted Chilean that appeared to have put Chile up.
But with a fraction of his knee ahead of the play, by the rule of the law, Vargas was offside. VAR looked to have gotten it right. It’s never fun to see goals taken off the board, but it was good to see the officials have the assistance to get a call right.
Late in the second half, VAR came into play again as Chile had a goal ruled out on the pitch, but given after a brief review. Alexis Sanchez looked offside, and it took the wind out of Chile’s celebrations, but the goal was allowed.
It would appear the process isn’t quite refined.
Cameroon were far too disorganized in midfield and defense
Time and time again Cameroon were broken down too easily by Chile in possession. They couldn’t sort out the space between their midfield and back line, and the Chileans thrived by dancing in and out of those areas. Cameroon just couldn’t deal with Chile’s constant interchanges, and they were pulled apart time and time again. Only some key last minute tackles and heroics from Fabrice Ondoa kept the Indomitable Lions from going out with a meow.
Fabrice Ondoa was a colossus
Chile threw everything at Fabrice Ondoa, but they simply couldn’t find a way past the imperious Cameroonian until late. He may have been partially at fault with the disorganization and confusion in his back line, but there was no fault to be had with his shot-stopping and control of his box. Chile tested him time and time again and he came up huge, and was saved by the VAR in the last moment. He was unlucky to see Vidal’s late header flash inside his post, and his effort alone deserved better.
Chile define total football
Basically 10 midfielders and a defender (the goalkeeper), Chile truly do define total football (futbol, in this case). Their entire team is comfortable on the ball, freely interchanging as they move the ball around, covering for each other and changing roles with ease. It’s incredibly vibrant and aesthetically pleasing, and the efficacy is especially impressive given their relative lack of physicality.
Cameroon’s attackers were isolated
Cameroon’s midfield was completely overrun against Chile’s free-flowing, constantly interchanging unit. They couldn’t track the Chileans’ runs, they couldn’t maintain possession, and they couldn’t forget any consistent or effective link with their strikers. It was a bad day all around for both the Cameroonian defense and midfield, and and started in the center of the park.