Fernandez plays down rivalry with Valdivia

NELSPRUIT - Chile's Matias Fernandez said on Monday his battle with Jorge Valdivia for the playmaker's role in his side's World Cup starting line-up was normal, and a sign that the Chileans have strength in depth.

Fernandez and Valdivia have been locked in a long-running tussle for the creative midfield role just behind the strikers.

Both played in Chile's qualifying campaign and both are fully fit for their side's opening World Cup match against Honduras on Wednesday.

Coach Marcelo Bielsa is expected to start with Fernandez, leaving Valdivia on the bench, even though many fans would like to see Valdivia start.

Asked about the rivalry, Fernandez said: "We both know what we're doing, what we have to work on, and after that it's the coach who decides.

"Quite apart from the different characteristics we have as players, I'm working hard to be in the starting line-up and Jorge is too. All of us are. In every position there are two players and we're all fighting to play. But that's normal."

Whatever his decision, Bielsa seems certain to pick only one of the two. In nearly three years in charge, he has only fielded Fernandez and Valdivia together five times - and on all five occasions Chile have lost.

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