Chile will be out to derail Brazil's drive towards a sixth FIFA World Cup™ title on Monday when the South American teams meet in their Round of 16 showdown. The Chileans are at the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time since France 1998 and their negotitiation of the group phase is being celebrated by the fans back home as much as the players here.
Now, their 54-year-old coach Marcelo Bielsa is hoping the Brazilians will struggle to find the form which saw them finish the group stage unbeaten. "Historically, they are a team to fear," says Bielsa, after the Brazilians put four goals past the Chileans in their previous meetings in 1962 and 1998 to advance. Bielsa suggests that today's Dunga-coached squad is no less dangerous than its forebears after they beat Korea DPR and the Côte d'Ivoire, but drew with Portugal in Group G.
"This latest version retains all the creative footballing aspects of this country (Brazil) - to which they have added aggression and forcefulness." But he added that the Chileans, who pushed Brazil all the way in the 18-match regional qualifying programme to reach their first finals since 1998, were determined to pull off a shock and reach the last eight. "We will do the impossible to ensure that things don't come to an end too soon for us," he insisted.
Ten-man Chile had a bitter-sweet night on Friday as they qualified for the last 16 despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Spain and will need to pull off the biggest shock of the FIFA World Cup so far if they are to beat Brazil.
Midfielder Rodrigo Millar, who scored Chile's consolation goal, said it means a lot to the fans as they bid to topple the world's highest-ranked side. "We know we're making the people in Chile happy with what we're doing here," said a grinning Millar, whose side are currently ranked 18th in the world.