We all had a day of rest yesterday, but now, the World Cup is back. Is it better than ever? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The knockout stage kicks off with a pretty big match-up: CONMEBOL foes Brazil and Chile face off for the right to head to the quarter-finals. Brazil hold the historical edge, and in fact defeated la roja 1-0 at this stage in 2010. But Chile’s attack has looked quite potent, at least through the first two games, and their ability to get behind Brazil’s defense should not be underestimated.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho, Oscar; Neymar, Hulk, Fred.
Chile: Bravo; Silva, Medel, Jara; Isla, Aranguiz, Diaz, Mena; Vidal; Sánchez, Vargas.
Will the blame fall on the officials?
English referee Howard Webb takes charge of this match, and fortunately, he’s a man used to pressure. He’ll be under plenty of it in Belo Horizonte. After Brazil saw two rather generous calls go their way in the first round – the awarding of a penalty to Fred in the first game, and allowing his goal to stand despite looking rather offside in the third game – Chile decided to speak out about the need for balanced officiating in today’s match. Then Brazil fought back, accusing Chile of “disrespect.”
The pressure’s on – any decision made by Webb and his officiating team will certainly be scrutinized from every angle.
Can Chile press hard enough to cause Brazil to collapse?
Chile couldn’t quite find the right combination to unlock the Netherlands defense, eventually losing 2-0. But despite the fact that this Brazil attack isn’t quite as potent as recent years, they’re still not going to sit back as Holland did in the final group game. Chile will continue their high-pressing style, hoping to cause Brazil to crack. Will we see another own-goal from the hosts?
Well, for the Selecao to win, of course. They’re the hosts, they have Neymar, they’re tipped to lift the cup. So their midfield has looked a bit weak, their defense a bit shaky – no one’s counting Brazil out just yet.
One blogger’s prediction
I’ve failed to provide the correct answer each time I’ve been asked to make one. I’m completely serious. But since I’d like Chile to advance, I’m going to go ahead and say Brazil win this one.*
*This never works. If I am conscious of jinxing, a reverse jinx occurs. Sorry, Chile.