Facing defending champion Spain and 2010 finalist Netherlands in Group B, just reaching the knockout round would be considered a major success.
Australia is also in group B.
“The margin for error is zero,” Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said.
“It’s a very complicated group due to the traits of the rivals. Obviously playing against such important European teams, against the last world champion, will be tough.”
With world-class players including Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal and Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, Chile’s recent record is impressive. It finished third in South American qualifying, had a draw with Spain and beat England in friendlies, and lost only two of 15 games last year.
A 1-0 loss to Germany in March convinced Sampaoli that his team can contend.
“We can compete against anybody the way we played today,” Sampaoli said after the match. “We can have a World Cup performance that Chile deserves.”
Part of Chile’s optimism is based around having a forward like Sanchez.
“Lots of people talk about Chile, but we have to be good each time and show it on the field,” Sanchez said. “We have a lot of top players in Europe.”
Chile placed third when it hosted the 1962 World Cup, but hadn’t qualified for two consecutive tournaments until now. In its last two appearances – in 1998 and 2010 – it reached the round of 16.
At the 2010 tournament in South Africa, Chile beat Switzerland and Honduras and lost to eventual champion Spain 2-1 in the group stage, and then lost to Brazil 3-0 in the second round.
If Chile gets through the group stage again, it could again meet Brazil in the second round.