KAZAN, Russia (AP) — Chile’s biggest asset at the Confederations Cup isn’t the dazzling attacking skill of Alexis Sanchez, or even Arturo Vidal’s creativity.
It’s down-to-earth goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who saves Chile when its hyper-aggressive pressing is no use at all — at the penalty spot.
Recently recovered from injury, ridiculed by some fans in England following an erratic season at Manchester City, the 34-year-old was imperious in Wednesday’s penalty shootout win over Portugal, stopping every shot he faced. He also made a key stop early in the game, which finished 0-0 after extra time.
Bravo isn’t charismatic — he talked calmly of feeling “very balanced” after making the three saves that sent Chile to the Confederations Cup final. But he is the perfect symbol for a Chilean team which, despite its reputation for a swashbuckling attacking style, is happy to grind out wins when the pressure’s on.
For three years in a row now, Chile has specialized in…