World Cup Round of 16 | Belo Horizonte | Sat 28 Jun | 5pm
A mouthwatering start to the business end of proceedings.
While us neutrals are smacking our chops, both Brazil and Chile approach this game with a degree of trepidation. The fact they fielded pretty much their full-strength team against Holland despite having already qualified tells you how much Chile wanted to win Group B and avoid the hosts. Brazil would probably have preferred European opposition, meanwhile, even in the shape of one of the teams of the tournament so far. Better the devil you know? Not for these two.
Chile can at least take comfort from the fact that Brazil will be expected to dominate possession. La Roja didn’t look particularly comfortable in that role against the Dutch and were eventually picked off as they visibly tired in the last 20 minutes. That happens in most games, mind you, although their high-energy approach will be boosted by the return of Arturo Vidal – in place of Felipe Gutierrez – whose recently injured knee was rested against the Oranje. A worrying lack of end product in their last game will also need to be addressed.
As was proved against Mexico, a high-pressing/counter-attacking opposition is not something the hosts are particularly comfortable with, but the performance of Neymar alone in the second half against Cameroon is enough to make them strong favourites. Big Phil Scolari is expected to persist with Fred up front, after the cumbersome striker rewarded him with a goal against the far-from-Indomitable Lions. He needs to perform, if only to stop the home crowd getting on Brazil’s back.
What the local media say
The Rio Times believes Chile will offer “a far sterner test” than what Brazil have faced so far, although the group game against Mexico will have prepared them for the tactics and intensity they will come up against. The Santiago Times is far from confident, meanwhile, calling Brazil Chile’s “perennial bogey team” and “the rival which all of Chile was praying it would avoid”. Let’s hope the players are more optimistic.
Key battle: Luiz Gustavo vs Arturo Vidal
He rarely plays a long pass, rarely ventures out of his own half and rarely makes the headlines, but Gustavo is arguably Brazil’s key man, along with Neymar. The Wolfsburg midfielder is a genuine anchorman, often dropping between the Seleção's two centre-backs (see graphic) to allow their full-backs to get forward. Crucially, he rarely strays from a central position, either, which means he won’t be strictly shadowing Vidal, whose free role means he pops up all over the attacking third, as he did against Spain (see graphic). Lightning central bursts are what Gustavo will have to look out for, while Vidal will be among several Chileans looking to stop Gustavo from starting Brazil’s attacks, fairly or unfairly.
Facts and figures
- Eduardo Vargas has scored in each of his last 2 appearances for Chile against Brazil, including a goal in Belo Horizonte in April 2013.
- Chile have lost each of their previous second round fixtures, both of which were against Brazil (0-3 in 2010 and 1-4 in 1998).
- Chile have never beaten the Seleção on Brazilian soil, losing 20 and drawing 6.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Home advantage + Neymar = Brazil to edge it. 1-0.