Caught your breath yet? It’s been quite a whirlwind since the World Cup started with goals aplenty and no small amount of talking points. The World Champions, Spain, has been dumped out unceremoniously, the tournament’s scoring spree started with an own-goal by Brazil. One hundred and thirty six goals thus far have been scored at an average of 2.38 per game. And even Wayne Rooney found the back of the net!
Lionel Messi and Neymar have been scintillating, Guillermo Ochoa produced his best Gandalf impression not allowing Brazil to pass as Mexico held the hosts 0-0, Fabio Capello achieved the seemingly impossible by having a worse World Cup with Russia than he did with England four years ago. Costa Rica upset the apple cart, James Rodríguez came to the fore for Colombia filling a Radamel Falcao sized hole. Holland and France defied national stereotypes displaying an almost unprecedented level of team unity, there was Tim Cahill’s Van Basten-eque volley against the Dutch, John Brooks’ ‘what just happened?’ celebration, the choreographed jigs, Phil Neville’s commentary, the genius and madness of Luis Suárez, goal line technology, the Ivory Coast’s last gasp heartache at the hands of Greece and so much more.
There’s been loads of drama, excitement and entertainment at this year’s World Cup and we haven’t even had a game in the knockouts yet!
As the cliché goes we’re now into the business end of the tournament where one moment of magic can seal a spot in the quarters whilst one slip could lead to elimination. So, what could be in store for the 16 who’ve managed to reach the knockout stage?
Brazil vs. Chile:
Brazil has not been terribly convincing and will need to up their game against an exciting Chilean team. The Seleção benefited from a number of generous decisions against Croatia, faced an inspired Mexican side and even suffered an attack of nerves when Cameroon equalized against them in their final group game. The one major bright spot has been the form of Neymar who has been crucial to Brazil, scoring big goals, taking responsibility and cementing his position as one of the team’s senior players despite his relative youth. Neymar has grown in stature as the tournament has progressed and is handling the pressure of expectation with ease. He’ll need to be on top form again and Brazil as a whole will need to raise their performance levels against an energetic Chile.
Chile, even taking into account their loss to Holland, has been impressive playing bright, forceful football. Despite being the away side Chile will approach the game with confidence. Charles Aránguiz’s energy in midfield will be key in disrupting Brazil’s rhythm whilst Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez are big game players capable of troubling their illustrious hosts. With Brazil looking occasionally vulnerable this may be a golden opportunity for Chile to take advantage of their frailties.
The start of the match could be a little cagey as would be expected with a knockout tie but it has the potential to be a thriller if both sides settle into their natural game. Luiz Filipe Scolari has always made it known that he didn’t want to face another South American team and Chile could demonstrate why he’s so nervous.