World cup hosts Brazil take on Chile in this Round of 16 clash at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte on Sunday, June 29, from 2am (AEST).
The business end of the World Cup has finally arrived. At this stage there is no second chance, no reliance on the outcome of other fixtures assisting a team’s progression into the draw. Fate is squarely in the hands or feet of the 16 teams left in the tournament.
This World Cup has delivered from day one with most teams adopting a mantra of winning over not losing. To date an impressive tally of 138 goals has been scored at a staggering average of 2.83 goals per game. Many favourites have returned home and sadly no Asian nation was able to make an impact and progress beyond the group stage.
Head to head
The two South American nations have met on 68 occasions with Brazil owning the ledger with 48 wins. Chile has beaten the Selecao on only seven occasions with 13 matches ending in a draw. Remarkably a total of 217 goals have been scored between the teams (Brazil 159 and Chile 58) averaging an incredible 3.19 goals per game.
They last met at the World Cup almost four years to the day in South Africa. Chile will hope history doesn’t repeat itself as Brazil ran out convincing 3-0 winners. England’s Howard Webb also adjudicated that match and will again be called to keep the peace on the pitch.
This game could be more about the fans! The support from both nations inside the Estadio Mineiro will be loud and proud. The pre-match anthems will surely provide plenty of goose bumps to the global audience.
The big issue
A big question will be if Chile focuses on attacking Brazil at their own game or deploying a more physical and disruptive tactic to upset their rhythm. Football lovers will be hoping for the impressive speedy styles of both teams to dominate. If that occurs we could be in for one mouth-watering contest that could end with two physically drained defensive lines.
The game breaker
The footballing cream will rise to the top as these two impressive outfits eye each other off. Neymar has stepped up for Brazil and shares the current golden boot honours with Lionel Messi. His silky skills and runs with the ball leave defensive lines in a cold sweat.
But Luiz Felipe Scolari may choose a different weapon of attack with players such as Hulk, Fred and Oscar looking to stamp their own mark on the score sheet.
While the focus will be centred on Chile’s Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal up front, Brazil should not underestimate the power of Jorge Valdivia who will have the 34-years-young Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar in his sights and on his toes.
It is far too bold to predict Chile, with Brazil holding such a proud and dominant record over their opponent. Chile performed well enough in the group stage but this match is a giant step up in class over the likes of an inexperienced Australia and a misfiring Spanish.
La Roja has only pushed past the second round of the World Cup once back in 1962 when they finished third in a tournament they proudly hosted. It was Brazil who stood in their way and triumphed 4-2 in Santiago. As a side note, their greatest ever defeat in football came from a 7-0 annihilation to Brazil back in 1959.
A 2-0 result looks likely after a first half that may see both teams' strong emphasis on attack nullified until the game can open up to a more open and entertaining battle.