Phillip Buckley

What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Brazil vs Chile (Last 16)
When: Monday 28th June, 2010, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Boring Boring Brazil

Brazil have hardly been on fire in South Africa, doing just enough to top their group and confirming that position by playing out a simply dismal 0-0 draw with Portugal. Coach Dunga has had to do his best to block out the constant questionning of his approach by the Brazilian press. Where is Ronaldinho? Why was Alexandre Pato not brought to South Africa? What about Adriano? With the Brazilian side lacking that cutting edge, that flash of flair which has for so long been their trademark, the domestic press-pack has a point.

Now Brazil cannot fail though. One slip and they’ll be homeward bound, with Dunga no doubt carrying the can for an unadventerous approach. With the country calling for a return to "jogo bonito" the pressure is on. "Everyone who talks about football talks about the beautiful game" said the 1994 World Cup winning captain. "But the beautiful game must also be controlled."

It may be that Dunga’s desire for Brazil to be more like the Europeans in their approach can yield results, but their last 16 opponents Chile will rely on creativity and pretty football that should be the Selecao’s trademark. If that triumphs over Dunga’s pragmatism, it will be nothing less than a disaster.

Only One Way to Play

Chile were impressive in their group meetings with Honduras and Switzerland before Spain put them to the sword. While the Chileans know how to attack and possess a number of flair players well able to turn a game, their defensive play still seems short of coping with the game’s very best. It may well be the case that coach Marcelo Bielsa’s 3-1-3-3 formation places an undue strain on the three out and out defenders, but the Argentine coach believes his full backs should operate further up the pitch.

Thoroughly beaten by Brazil in qualification (4-2 and 3-0), Chile will be aware of the damage Dunga’s men can do. "Brazil are always a side to be afraid of", said Bielsa and while acknowledging the changed style the Selecao have employed is certain their flair remains. "They still have all the creative attributes of football typical to Brazil as well as a certain amount of aggressiveness."

Having gone down to Spain in their last group game Chile could be forgiven for coming into this last 16 clash in a less than optimistic frame of mind. Yet Bielsa knows Brazil have not hit top form and will urge his men to take advantage.

Recent form

Brazil 2–1 North Korea (15/06; World Cup – Group G)
Brazil 3–1 Ivory Coast (20/06; World Cup – Group G)
Brazil 0–0 Portugal (25/06; World Cup – Group G)

Honduras 0–1 Chile (16/06; World Cup – Group H)
Chile 1–0 Switzerland (21/06; World Cup – Group H)
Chile 1–2 Spain (25/06; World Cup – Group H)

Players to watch

Brazil – Maicon: The Inter full back has been a bright spot in the middle of Brazil’s dull play so far. Always rampaging down the flanks, Maicon is also able to contribute the odd goal. A constant source of danger, with Chile’s full backs further up the pitch, Maicon will look to get in behind them whenever possible.

Chile – Alexis Sanchez: Just 21 years old, the Udinese forward has enjoyed a good World Cup so far. Quickness combined with top notch dribbling ability make him a constant threat for opposition defences. Expected to sit on the right flank, Sanchez will need to comprehensively win his battle in that area.

Match prediction

Brazil have not really seemed like Brazil to a good many spectators in South Africa so far. And while that may not change any time soon under Dunga, they still have enough talent to flick a switch and win a game at any time. Chile only know how to attack and can be expected to concede. The question then is, can they breach the Brazilian backline? And if so how many times? There should be goals, but strangely, Brazil’s solidity will see them through. 2-1 to the Selecao.

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