Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte
June 28, 2014; 13:00 GMT
In the first game of round of 16, hosts Brazil take on their South American rivals Chile in what promises to be an engaging encounter. Although Brazil topped their group, which had pretty decent teams, they would not be entirely happy with facing a team as strong as Chile so early in the tournament. Chile were in the same group as defending champions Spain and Netherlands, but they easily qualified for the knockout round, courtesy their highly impressive wins over Spain and Australia. Brazil have always had an upper hand against Chile, as far as international fixtures are concerned, but this is perhaps the strongest Chile team to have ever come to a World Cup and they will not just rollover.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Luiz Filipe Scolari is expected to line his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and mostly retain the first eleven that started against Cameroon. He can, however, ponder over starting Fernandinho in place of Paulinho consider the impact the Man City midfielder had on the game since he came on later in the game. Also, Hulk hasn’t done anything of note yet and can make way for Willian, who is more versatile, does better defensive work and can work well in tandem with Oscar and Neymar, with all three interchanging positions in the third band, behind Fred, to cause havoc to the Chilean defence.
The defence is expected to again comprise of Cesar in goal, Alves on the right, Marcelo at left-back, with Luiz and Silva partnering in the centre of defence. Marcelo and Luiz haven’t hit top gear yet, and as a result, there’s additional pressure on Thiago Silva to keep things solid at the back. Against the likes of Sanchez, Vargas et al, Brazilian defenders will have to be on their toes to deny them space to run or time on the ball, in addition to checking the runs of players from the deep; otherwise, they might be in for a long night at Estádio Mineirão.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cesar; Alves, Luiz, Silva, Marcelo; Gustavo, Fernandinho; Willian, Oscar, Neymar; Fred
Jorge Sampauli is expected to deploy a highly interesting 3-4-1-2 formation and with the return of Vidal to the line-up, who was rested against the Netherlands, the coach will be fairly confident of his team doing well against the hosts. The rest of the team is expected to remain unchanged as the key strength of Chile is their highly organized and hard-working nature, which is built on the understanding that his players have with one another.
Bravo will continue in goal, with the back three comprising of Silva, Medel and Jara. Isla is expected to start at right wing-back position with Mena on the other flank. The midfield will comprise of Aranguiz, Diaz in all likelihood, with Vidal in front of them. Sanchez and Vargas will continue to keep their place upfront.
If Chile can bring their A game on Saturday and play with energy, directness and fluidity that so defines then, we may have the best game that this World Cup seen thus far.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-1-2): Bravo; Silva, Medel, Jara; Isla, Aranguiz, Diaz, Mena; Vidal; Sanchez, Vargas
- Overall, the two sides have met 86 times, with Brazil winning 48 games and Chile claiming victory in 7.
- In the last 6 matches between the two sides, Brazil have won 5 and drawn once.
Player (s) To Watch Out For
Four goals in three games, jointly leading the race for Golden Boot, Neymar is surely leaving his mark on this World Cup. The massive weight of expectations on his young shoulders is just powering him on, rather than slowing him down, and he has thus far risen to the occasion whenever his country needed him the most. Against a strong Chile side, Brazil will again look towards their poster boy to see them through and all the evidence thus far suggests that he will do just that.
Arturo Vidal (Chile)
The key for Chile here is to gain complete control of the midfield and play their counter-parts (Paulinho, Gustavo, or Fernandinho et al) out of the park. Mission impossible? No, as long as they have arguably the best central midfielder in Arturo Vidal in their ranks. Vidal is a midfield powerhouse, who can not only counter the attacking flair of Brazil but can also inflict damage at the other end of the field. If he can handle the Brazilian pivot, Chile have a good chance of causing a major upset.
Brazil 2-1 Chile
Brazil have a very, very tricky round of 16 fixture against Chile, but as shown by the Netherlands, the Chileans can be overcome. The form of Neymar and Oscar, alongwith the home support should see Brazil narrowly defeat their South American Opponents and progress to the quarter-finals.