SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Injured Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal and Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez headlined Chile's preliminary squad of 30 players for the World Cup on Tuesday.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli resisted naming any major surprises in the squad. Chile is pinning its hopes on the recovery of Vidal, who underwent knee surgery last Wednesday, just five weeks before his country's first match at the World Cup. Juventus said on Tuesday that it has authorized Vidal to return to Chile over the weekend to finish his recovery.
The list also includes for the first time Swedish-born midfielder Miiko Albornoz and leaves out midfielders David Pizarro of Italy's Fiorentina and Humberto Suazo, who plays in Monterrey, Mexico.
Chile has one of the strongest teams in its history but faces a tough challenge in Brazil. It plays its first match on June 13 against Australia, and then faces reigning world and European champion Spain and the Netherlands in Group B.
Even if it qualifies in the group's second spot, it would have to play against host and five-time champion Brazil. But fans remain confident that Chile will continue its good form. It lost only two out of 15 games last year, and drew with Spain and beat England in friendly matches.