Chile stars learn from new pastures
When the Barcelona forward takes to the field he, like many of his team-mates, will be putting into practice skills learnt during his footballing travels the world over. Following stop-overs in Argentina with River Plate and Italy at Udinese, it is his time at Barcelona which has really turned the speedy Sanchez into one of the world's most dangerous strikers.
"At Barcelona I learnt how to play football all over again," the 25-year-old told El Pais. "What I did in Italy I couldn't do in Spain. Before getting a one-on-one I need to open up the pitch, find space.
"Before, I always waited for (the ball) into feet, I dribbled [past] three; I was the one who gave a pass into space because the other players opened it up. From (Andres) Iniesta I learnt how to accelerate, from Xavi (Hernandez) how to move, from Leo (Lionel Messi) to think ahead, how to shoot like Pedro (Rodriguez), on top of that the faith (Pep) Guardiola had in me helped a lot.
"He was very nice to me and trusted me. We had conversations in which he said 'give the ball to Alexis with his back to goal, he protects it well, look for Alexis in space'. This made me feel important, I felt like a beautiful Ferrari."
For midfielder Arturo Vidal, it was his passage through Germany and Bayer Leverkusen, before heading to Juventus, that taught him a lot.
"Before I arrived at Juventus I'd changed and improved," said the 27-year-old. "(At Juve) I learnt a lot from everyone, especially from people like (Andrea) Pirlo and (Gianluigi) Buffon, who have won everything in their careers."
Defensive midfielder Gary Medel, 26, plays for Cardiff City in the English Premier League having joined from Spaniards Sevilla. But he says it was in Argentina with Boca Juniors that he learnt the hard way.
"They gave me a rollicking if I took more than two touches," he said, using language that was rather more colourful. Several other players in the Chile squad have at some time or another plied their trade in Argentina, Italy or Spain such as full-back Mauricio Isla, midfielders Francisco Silva, Carlos Carmona and Charles Aranguiz, and forwards Mauricio Pinilla, Eduardo Vargas and Fabian Orellana.
Since they lost to Brazil at this very same stage four years ago in South Africa, the current Chile squad have gained a lot more experience. And if they do manage to upset the odds and make it through to the quarter-finals, they will owe a lot of thanks to a lot of other parts of the world.
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