In the first of the Round of 16 World Cup matches, hosts Brazil meet their exciting South American counterparts Chile in Belo Horizonte.
Chile, labeled as potential dark horses prior to the tournament, have done little to dispel that notion with Jorge Sampaoli’s side coming through Group B with two victories over both Australia and reigning world champions Spain whilst playing a brazenly attacking style of football.
Chile have looked to blow teams away in the early stages with the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia and Eduardo Vargas — all in imperious form. Behind them there is a solid midfield base including Arturo Vidal whilst Gary Medel has performed excellently in his preferred role as a central defender.
Brazil have stuttered thus far in the competition with the first real sign of the free flowing soccer we have come to expect from the Selecao coming in the second-half of their final group match against Cameroon.
Despite this, Neymar has set the tournament alight. Whilst the Barcelona forward has the weight of a nation on his shoulders, the pressure has not shown with the 22-year-old having scored four goals in three matches.
Chile do not have a great history when facing Brazil, having lost to their rivals at the round of 16 stage in the last two World Cups they have entered, 1998 and 2010. The main battle for Sampaoli’s side you feel will be psychological with Chile in a better team rhythm than Brazil.
For Luiz Felipe Scolari, who as yet has not been able to find his best combination of players, the task is adjusting to the challenges Chile present. The energy of Sanchez and Vargas going forward means Brazil’s midfield will have to be able to protect the defence.
Luiz Gustavo can only do so much. It is likely Manchester City’s Fernandinho will start in order to add real energy as a box-to-box midfielder