‘Chile were the best team in Copa group stages’

Santiago, June 23 (IANS) Midfielder Marcelo Diaz believes Chile were the best side in the Copa America football tournament’s group stages, following the conclusion of the first phase.

Chile topped Group A and scored 10 goals – more than double the tally of any other team – to set up a quarter-final meeting with Uruguay, to be played on Wednesday.

Chile’s only blip was a 3-3 draw with Mexico, but Diaz feels that his side got better with every match played.

“The statistics are clear, I think Chile did very well in the group stages,” he said at a press conference on Monday.

“Our performances were progressing with (each game). There were very good teams in the other groups, but I agree that Chile were the best team in the group stages.

We are now in the quarter-finals, and a new tournament begins, one of life and death, and we must be prepared,” he added.

Diaz also warned of the challenge of facing the defending champions, but pledged to “give his life” during Wednesday’s last-eight meeting in Santiago.

“Uruguay are a very tough opponent, and we know how they play. They have a totally different style to us, which doesn’t mean it’s better or worse,” he said.

“We know their strengths, and we are working on that. We know that we also have our strong points and we have to use them to complicate a team that is very organised defensively.

“It’s a team who will exploit our mistakes and commit the fewest. We will give our lives for Wednesday’s game,” he added.

Chile and Uruguay last met in November at Estadio Monumental in a friendly, where Uruguay came back from a goal down to win 2-1.

Diaz, who featured that day in Santiago, wants his side to improve on the errors made during the encounter.

“We both played a great match, but two errors cost us dearly. We will do everything possible to reach the semi-finals. Our best way to fight Uruguay is to have the ball and play our game,” he continued.

“The only way to achieve success is with the support of all who are aspiring to the same thing. We are a team in which each player is dependent on the other, a collective.”

Should Chile progress, then they will face the victor of Peru’s clash with Bolivia in the last four on June 29.

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