It’s now pretty simple – win and you go through, lose and you go home.. it’s the Knockout Stage!
It starts off with the hosts taking on fellow South American rivals, Brazil vs Chile. Brazil hasn’t lost to Chile in more than a decade and certainly never on home soil. But this time there’s no reason the Chileans can’t surprise the hosts after having come into the knockout stages beating current holders Spain and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is wary of the threat the neighbours bring. Despite the possibility of the hosts facing Spain or Netherlands, their nemesis in the quarter finals of 2010, Brazil should not feel lucky. Chile would bring an equal amount of threat as well.
Brazil have managed to make it to the second round with little trouble, except a goalless draw against Mexico, and now manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is fortunate enough to have no injury or suspension concerns ahead of their match against Chile. But Thiago Silva, Ramires, Luiz Gustavo and star player Neymar are all just one yellow away from suspension. Former Blues defender David Luiz is dealing with a small back problem but is nevertheless expected to play.
Manager Jorge Sampaoli is not without problems ahead of this crucial tie as Cardiff City defender Gary Medel has suffered an ankle injury and is doubtful. However Arturo Vidal is expected to return to the team after being rested against the Netherlands. Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, Francisco Silva and Eugenio Mena are also one booking away from suspension.
What to watch out for:
After initial stumbles against Croatia and Mexico, the hosts have found form after having 18 of 19 shots on target against Cameroon and scoring four. The Samba attack is to watch out for in this match. The Chileans, having started off strong, their offence somewhat wilted out in their third game against the Dutch. They had only one shot on target (out of seven in total) in losing 2-0 to the Netherlands. They need to find the target if they hope to cause the major upset.
Neymar: One of the most exciting players in World football at the moment, he is also the tournament’s joint top scorer this year with 4 goals from 3 games. He leads the hopes of the nation into this vital match.
Oscar: If Neymar is fire, then this baby faced assassin is surely the fuel. He is entitled with the job of making those crucial passes and his partnership with Neymar has been a talking point of the tournament.
Alexis Sanchez: He is extremely talented. At Barcelona, he doesn’t really get to showcase his skills ahead of the other big fish, but in this World Cup he has shown what he is capable of. If there is a Chile goal he has to be involved in it somehow or the other. And the way he befuddles defenders with his quick feet is a treat to watch.
Eduardo Vargas: He is Chile’s top scorer in qualification with five goals. He has also found the net in the World Cup as well. The Valencia forward on loan from Napoli needs to fire today as well if they hope to qualify further.
Road to the Round of 16:
vs Croatia: 3-1
vs Mexico: 0-0
vs Cameroon: 4-1
vs Australia: 3-1
vs Spain: 2-0
vs Netherlands: 0-2
This game is bound to be a treat to the eyes, but the Brazilians are expected to go through, after facing much resistance though! A 3-1 in favour of Brazil seems like a reasonable outcome.