The rise and fall of Chile
Between 2013 and 2016, Chile were one of the most watchable and successful teams in world football. From qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with 5 wins in their last 6 matches, to being the width of the crossbar away from knocking out Brazil in the tournament proper, to consecutive Copa América triumphs, Chile were a relative underdog that became a global force.
The year 2017 has been far less successful. A meek showing at the Confederations Cup was followed by a collapse in form during World Cup qualifiers, meaning they will not be in Russia next summer.
Chile’s biggest problem was that they were unable to refresh their squad; seven of their core players at the 2010 World Cup were still core players at the 2017 Confederations Cup, ageing to an average of 30 years and 7 months in the process.
Chile’s evolution from young and dynamic to ageing and slow is a useful reminder of how having a squad that is mainly peak age is a key factor for success. We often overvalue historic performances of successful players when trying to predict their future output, failing to appreciate that time marches on until after the event.
For many clubs their position in football’s ‘food chain’ means creating peak-age squads is easier said than done. However, being on top of squad planning and ensuring you have the profile you need for success is an underrated and achievable source of competitive edge.
As for Chile, after all of their success, a poor squad profile means it is now a long road back to the top.