Wizard Valdivia a familiar foe for Brazil

June 25, 2014 at 7:24 pm
Posted under: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil, Brazil News, Chile, Chile News

Netherlands' midfielder Nigel de Jong (L) and Chile's forward Jorge Valdivia vie during the Group B football match between Netherlands and Chile at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 23, 2014.  AFP PHOTO
Netherlands' midfielder Nigel de Jong (L) and Chile's forward Jorge Valdivia vie during the Group B football match between Netherlands and Chile at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO

Brazil will be on familiar territory when they tackle Jorge Valdivia and Chile in the World Cup second round in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.

While Chile’s players would be expected to know their opponents fairly well, the Selecao will certainly not be coming into the game needing to swat up on theirs.

Three of the Chile line-up ply their trade in Brazil while a further four previously played in Brazil.

One such who currently graces Brazilian pitches is Palmeiras midfielder Valdivia, known in these parts as “El Mago” — the wizard.

Valdivia, 30, doesn’t just play in Brazil, in Porto Alegre, he is a hugely popular figure there.

“In Brazil it’s impossible to go out and pass by unrecognised,” said Valdivia once.

“Wherever you are people recognise you, they take photos of you and you end up on Twitter, on Facebook, in the newspapers, they talk about you on the television and radio.” Such is Valdivia’s standing at Palmeiras, where he played from 2006 to 2008 before rejoining the club in 2010, that a local artist has even written a song about him.

Renato Alvarenga Almeida de Souza dedicated his song ‘El mago’ to Valdivia, with whom he struck up a friendship.

“I saw him play and was able to meet him. It was the most special moment of my life,” said Almeida de Souza.

His eulogies to Valdivia in his song went even further, describing him as “a true crack with a ball at his feet, he plays in attack and his number is the 10, he drives his opponents round the bend.” Valdivia appreciates the attention, and said: “It’s moving to receive this type of gift.” Just last week a Brazilian fan managed to gain access to the Chilean training ground as he went in search of his hero.

Valdivia is also admired back home where national team coach Jorge Sampaoli once sung his praises following a 3-0 World Cup qualification victory over Venezuela.

“The improvement of the team was down to the quality of Jorge Valdivia,” he said.

“It’s easy to adapt to a player with so much quality and we saw the best of Jorge Valdivia.” If he can do that again against Brazil, some might just fancy the Chileans to cause a sensational upset.

But expect the Selecao players to be on their guard.

-AFP


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