Brazil will be vying to beat Chile for the third time in three FIFA World Cup™ meetings, with the prize on offer a place in the quarter-finals. Whoever they are facing, the five-time champions come under pressure to win every match with unrivalled swagger.
That is the price they pay for starting each tournament as favourites, the burden of their success down the years, yet they can expect stiff opposition from South American rivals who have been in fine form since Marcelo Bielsa took over at the helm. Add in the carrot of a coveted berth in the last eight and all the ingredients are present for an open yet fiery encounter, not least since Chile lost 4-2 and 3-0 to Dunga’s charges in qualifying and will be desperate to turn the tables.
A Seleção found life difficult against group-stage opponents Korea DPR and Portugal, struggling to find a way through a sturdy defensive barrier on both occasions. Despite dominating possession, Brazil had trouble picking out their forwards in dangerous positions and endured plenty of frustration. That is not a problem they are likely to find repeated against Chile, however, as Bielsa’s flamboyant side are unlikely to settle for cautious counter-attacking football.
Still, La Roja will need to keep things tight at the back. With the likes of Robinho, Kaka and Luis Fabiano sniffing out openings, Chile will require levels of commitment and organisation similar to those they displayed against Spain, when even down to ten men they managed to keep the European champions at bay – save for the two mistakes that cost them goals. They will nonetheless have to cope without Marco Estrada, sent off against Spain, and suspended duo Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel, while Brazil could be deprived the services of injured pair Felipe Melo and Julio Baptista.
The Brazil playmaker remains an idol at Sao Paulo, where he first rose to prominence before setting sail for AC Milan, while his Chilean counterpart was an iconic figure for O Tricolor Paulista's regional rivals Palmeiras, firing 24 goals in 93 appearances between 2006 and 2008. Despite those contrasting club allegiances, the two players perform a similar function on the pitch and how they fare could well prove key to this game. Their vision, the quality of their passing and their set-piece pedigree could all potentially make the difference at either end, with neither defence noted for being porous or naive.
2 – Brazil and Chile have crossed paths on two previous occasions at this level, in the semi-finals at Chile 1962 and in the Round of 16 at France 1998. A Canarinho prevailed in both games, scoring four goals each time to triumph 4-2 and 4-1 – an omen, perhaps, for a feast of attacking football at Ellis Park Stadium.
What they said
"We’re going to need to learn to play against defensive sides as I think very few teams will want to play Brazil at our own game. A Seleção must start finding solutions to get around this problem, because from now on every match will be decisive,” Luis Fabiano, Brazil forward.
"Brazil have proved down the years that they’re a team to be feared, but in this World Cup they’ve also shown that in addition to their usual creative style they now boast combativeness and strength,” Marcelo Bielsa, Chile coach.
Voice of the fans
"It will be very difficult and we won’t have our two defenders Medel and Ponce (listed as the two best players at the World Cup by the Castrol Index). There ought to be a change with Suazo back in the side and he scored two goals against Brazil in qualifying. But Brazil will always be Brazil. May the best team win,” FIFA.com user Darilx (France).