Brazil Must Consider World Cup Changes as Attack Misfires vs. Chile

Christopher AtkinsContributor IJune 28, 2014

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It was a clash of titans that could only be separated from the penalty spot. By the end, both Brazil and more so Chile were out on their feet; they could give no more.

The 1-1 scoreline prior to penalty shootout drama does not reflect the entertainment of the encounter. Both sides could have scored more and, indeed, when Mauricio Pinilla smashed the crossbar in the final minute of normal time, the game was almost wrapped up with a suitably dramatic ending.

In the end, though, it was Brazil who just about held their nerve from 12 yards to end an enthralling start to the 2014 World Cup knockout rounds.

It was the result that the tournament perhaps needed, but the Selecao's unconvincing path through the competition continues. Once more they lacked control and creativity in forward areas and, once again, Neymar was frequently left to fight lone battles in attack.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  Neymar of Brazil celebrates after defeating Chile in a penalty shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile at Estadio Mineirao on June 28, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (P
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When the Selecao took a first-half lead, the game had looked so different. Before the break they were largely in control and would have felt aggrieved to allow Chile back into the match ahead of the interval. For much of the second half, though, Chile imposed themselves firmly on the tie.

Brazil simply do not have a midfielder able to control the game, but were significantly improved by Fernadinho's presence on this occasion.

In attack, though, they have options—albeit not the greatest in their illustrious history—and it is increasingly becoming clear that the time for change has arrived.

Luiz Felipe Scolari has formed a close-knit bond with his group thanks to his unwavering faith in their abilities. His reluctance to change and adapt, though, could well be becoming an issue at this stage.

Most managers would have looked to switch up Brazil's misfiring forward line by this point. Neymar and Oscar are virtually irreplaceable, despite the latter's poor showing on this occasion, but the selection of Fred and Hulk is worth examining.

It is a topic we have covered after every match to date and continues to be an issue. The time has come for Scolari to be bold.

Fred was awful on the night, providing ammunition to every one of his critics with a lethargic and ineffective showing. Sadly for Scolari, his replacement Jo—the only other true No. 9 in the squad—was arguably worse.

Twitter has been overwhelmed with comments bemoaning the lack of a Romario or Ronaldo in the Brazil ranks. The truth is, they would welcome a 2010 vintage Luis Fabiano at this point.

The only connection Fred currently possesses with the greats of Brazil past is a moustache that bares a certain resemblance to 1982 star Roberto Rivellino. The comparison ends there.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  (L-R) Neymar, Dani Alves, Fred and Oscar of Brazil sing the National Anthem prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile at Estadio Mineirao on June 28, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazi
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Scolari, though, perhaps has an alternative within his ranks. Hulk has been heavily criticised at the tournament thus far and, indeed, I've been among those to call for his exclusion.

On Saturday he was just as wasteful, but when he moved into central areas he was putting himself in the right place, beating opponents and, indeed, eventually scoring courtesy of a handball that was correctly penalised.

The Zenit star scored 17 in 24 in Russia this season, with his best performances coming when played through the centre. He can hold the ball up and is far more mobile than Fred. Clumsy he may be, but it is an option well worth Scolari's consideration.

Moving Hulk infield would also allow for the inclusion of Willian on the flank. The Chelsea man may have shanked his penalty, but has often impressed in the Selecao jersey and should be first in line to benefit from any changes.

Colombia and Uruguay will soon meet to decide Brazil's next opponent in the tournament that they are expected to win by an entire country.

Whoever their opponent may be, they will need to be better in attacking areas than they have been over the past few fixtures and it is perhaps time for a more ruthless Scolari to emerge. His faith is being stretched to breaking point.

"The idea is to build on this," Scolari said, per "When you win like this you come out stronger. We’re going to tell them that so they can appreciate what they’ve done."