Moreover, this will be a first finals for Gonzalez and his fellow La Roja squad-mates, given Chile’s absence from world football’s top table since France 1998. The former Liverpool flyer firmly believes that Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa deserves a large share of the credit for their return: “At first we struggled a bit to adapt to the tempo and system of play that coach Bielsa was trying to get across.”
“But by the end of [South American Zone] qualifying we were playing on instinct, with a well-structured system. What matters most is that we proved we’re a tough team to play and we always go out to try and win,” added Gonzalez, with obvious pride. “He [Bielsa] came to Chile to change how we played the game. What we're doing now is totally different to before. There’s no other coach like him: he’s a perfectionist.”
“He’s very respectful, is a very good guy and is always approachable. When it comes to work he’s very strict, very disciplined. And everything he does is reflected in our play,” continued Gonzalez on former Argentina boss Bielsa, who took over the Chilean helm in August 2007.