Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile have been tournament darlings, playing a refreshing and innovative all out attack. The trouble is they are too one dimensional. Their unique system relies on confusing and overwhelming teams unfamiliar with it. Facing their first South American opponent in the World Cup, the Chileans will lose that advantage. Brazil have seen Chile. They crushed them twice in qualifying, by a combined score of 7-2.
History: Brazil is the winningest team in World Cup History. They have qualified for fifteen World Cups since 1950 and made the second round every time except 1966. In the modern era, Brazil has won five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002), made the finals seven times and the semifinals nine times. Chile has qualified for six World Cups in the modern era. They made the semifinal in 1962 as host and the second round in 1998.
Form: Chile finished second from Group H on goal difference. They beat Honduras and Switzerland 1-0, creating numerous chances they could not convert. They lost to Spain 2-1 when down to ten men. Brazil won Group G. They looked nervy in a 2-1 win against North Korea, comprehensively disposed of Ivory Coast 3-1. Without Kaka, Elano and Robinho, they drew 0-0 with Portugal to secure the group win.
Fouls: The Chileans are the most aggressive team in South Africa, but it’s costing them. Chile led the tournament with 62 fouls. They had two players banned for the last match, three – Estrada, Ponce, Medel – banned for the current match and another two – Suazo and Valdivia – who are one yellow card away from a ban.
Matchup: Brazil earned the expected results, but unless it results in a World Cup title, that’s never enough. Fans are disappointed with the lackluster attacking against North Korea and the shut out to Portugal. Dunga is disappointed as well with the team’s inability to hold a clean sheet until facing Portugal, who did not attack them. Brazil has not yet left first gear. Ahead of a tense tie with Holland, Dunga will expect far more intensity and discipline from them. Kaka, Elano and Robinho returning should improve their potency from the last time out.
Chile will go for it. That’s the only way they can play. Chile’s system works by pressing heavily in the other team’s half of the field. With players forward and the defense pushed high, it leaves Chile vulnerable at the back. Brazil should absorb the pressure and ravage the Chileans on the counterattack. They already did it twice in qualifying.
Expect a strong run out from Luis Fabiano. Chile had no answer for him in Santiago, when he had two goals and an assist. They are missing two starting defenders.
Prediction: The fun stops here. Brazil 3-0 Chile.
[Photo via Getty]