Stage : 1/16th Final
Winner Plays Versus: Holland
Time: 2030h GMT +1
Venue: Elis Park Stadium in Johannesburg – A classic, old fashioned English-style box stadium with good camera angles. Some of the shots have been too long-range though, with insufficient close-ups.
Referee: Howard Webb – for all the referee whining we have seen from the English over the past days, their referee is the most controversial of them all. With a love for giving late, unfounded penalties, and flapping yellow at mosquito bites... FIFA like him because he is an imposing presence that keeps control of the big matches. Unfortunately for Chile, he likes to play favourites with the big teams, so if Brazil ask for free-kicks they should get them easily.
Date of Birth: 14.07.1971 in Rotherham, Yorkshire.
Height: 188 cm
Place of residence: London and Rotherham.
Occupation: Professional Referee
Mother tongue: English
International since: 2005
First international: Northern Ireland-Portugal (15.11.2005)
Fondest memory: UEFA Euro Austria-Switzerland 2008 Final
Overview: Brazil have been one of the best teams in the tournament so far, with attacking Brazilian flair accompanied by a solid, team defence. They let a draw slip to Portugal and could underestimate Chile, a team Brazil has beaten twice in qualifications. Those two defeats were rare for the attacking Chileans, and this very talented team has been among the most entertaining so far. If they can recover from their narrow defeat to Spain and realize their ability, don’t be surprised if there is an upset.
Suggested Menu With Your Game:
Appetizer: Caldillo de congrio al vino ... a fantastic eel stew made with wine that the legendary poet Pablo Neruda even wrote about to inspire Chile to finally beat Brazil in a major tournament.
Main Course: Coração de frango , or Brazilian grilled chicken hearts (as if to taunt the determination of their opposition), accompanying a complete Brazilian 11 cut churasco (to symbolize 11 Brazilian players), which is a meat orgy with a wide variety of the best meat in the world.
Brazil always gets the main course.
Desert drink: Pisco sour. The Chilean national drink to represent the souring of the Brazilian team, a feat the Chileans will surely attempt to cause.
Wine: Chilean, of course! A fine Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the sunny valley below the majestic peak of Aconcagua is enough to inspire an upset, or console a defeat.
Unofficial Theme Song to Accompany Style of Play:
A clear choice... the absent Ronaldinho Gaucho playing the drums in a Paris night club to help his friend keep their samba rhythm going through this tournament...
Tactics: The Brazilian team has always been known for attacking. However, with the arrival of legendary defensive midfielder Dunga as coach, the Brazilians have staged a quiet revolution, improving Brazilian defending and discipline. The current team doesn't exhibit the fiery offensive attack of classic Brazil, but with improved discipline, the Brazilian national team look to be certain favourites for the finals.
The Brazilian tactical line up has best been described as 4-2-2-2. It involves four at the back, with offensive wingbacks being the tantalizing feature. They are accompanied by two ball winning defensive midfielders, two free roaming attacking midfielders who also act as wingers, and two forwards with a dedicated striker and a wide or playmaking forward. The tempo shifts are key, and keeping possession before exploding with pace and power is very important for Brazil.
Strengths: The individual ability of Brazil's players goes without question. Even with some of Brazil’s most capable players left out the squad, the discipline and unity the team has developed brought perfection on both offense and defence.
Weakness: Very few, except overpaid egos which can be upset if things don’t go their way. Luis Fabiano is a diver and a relatively unsportsmanlike player, as are some other members of the team... Robinho can be a bit of a diver, Lucio can be brutal as a tackler, and Felipe Melo can be overly aggressive. These can all lead to occasional card trouble from a non-Brazil-worshiping referee. However, this Brazil team is considerably cleaner compared to recent generations.
Key to beating Chile: Play like Brazil did in the first two games: attack and dampen the opponents attempts, not getting distracted or trying to play the referee.
Key Squad Members:
European Champion Julio Cesar might just be Brazil’s best keeper ever. He has few weaknesses, even though he was never considered a major talent until donning the Inter Milan gloves.
In Maicon, Brazil has a physically overpowering wingback that is currently on top of the world in his position. His goal against North Korea is already a thing of legend, as are numerous other goals of his when he goes forward, like the goal against Juventus in the Serie A this season. Oh, and he defends perfectly as well.
Lucio, the Brazil captain, led the Inter defence to the European triple crown this season, and is very much on top of his game, although opponents have gotten past him in this tournament.
Elano, the right sided attacking midfielder, is in better form than his more famous, more commercial counterpart Kaka, and has been crucial for Brazil thus far. The reddish-haired midfielder scored a brace of great goals, made some fantastic passes (although completed only a little over 60% of them), and has looked very motivated.
It's lucky that Ivory Coast’s Eboue managed not to break his leg, as the tournament would miss a major player. The injury leaves a probability that he will still be on the sidelines today. UPDATE: He is not in the starting line up.
Gilberto Silva’s sale of him to Panathinaikos was one of the great mistakes that Arsenal made. The defensive midfielder is the massive iron gate to the Brazilian defence, and not much gets past his tackling. The silent job he does on the field is as vital as coach Dunga’s for the 1994 team.
Unofficial theme songs to accompany style of play:
Chilean rock band La Ley went far with their ballad “El Duelo” with the words “Sin dolor no te haces feliz.” Basically simplified to, “no pain no gain,” which is to say the Chileans have to hurt here if they are to achieve anything. Maybe Alexis Sanchez can reach the high notes of Mexican singer Ely Guerra’s astral vocals?
The tempo pick up near the end could be a useful tactic to imitate for the Chileans so that they can end on a climax!
Tactics: Chile has a superbly talented generation and the 4-5-1 they deploy has been very effective in finding the back of opponents’ nets. No player in attack sticks to a set formula. Instead, their movements vary tremendously, meaning many surprises to their opponents defense. The wingers Matias Fernandez and Alexis Sanchez are highly skilled and full of surprises, but Matias has yet to show it in South Africa, while Alexis is something of a rising star this tournament.
Strengths: Decent in defence, and decent in the middle. If those two elements click, Chile creates many attacking opportunities. Unfortunately, finishing is only there when Humberto Suazo plays, and he has been recovering from injury.
Weaknesses: Injuries and suspensions. Three key players are out after a tough group battle. Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce are key to the Chilean defensive formation and Marco Estrada’s red against Spain was an additional loss to the midfield stability. Without these players Chile’s defence may or may not be able to deal with Brazil, whereas normally this team is capable of playing against the best. The Chilean subs are not bad players, just less experienced.
Key to beating Brazil: Finishing. Chile will produce some opportunities and entertain, but they have to start capitalizing on the creativity in front. If they are able to do that, anything can happen.
Key Squad Members:
Ismael Fuentes usually partners Waldo Ponce at club level with Universidad Catolica. The latter will be replaced today, but Fuentes is a resilient and tough central defender that can play against the best forwards Brazil will throw at him. Pablo Contreras of PAOK Thessaloniki is not a bad replacement and is certain to make an appearance today. If he and Fuentes can gel they will make a tough final line for the Brazilians to breach.
Arturo Vidal of Bayer Leverkusen has been a key player with his club this season, and his completeness as a defensive midfielder has been key to Chile’s incredible tempo and ability to retain possession.
Jorge Valdivia is now a star of the Emirati league, but his playmaking with Palmeiras in Brazil was extraordinary. He is a clever and creative player who knows how to breach Brazilian defences.
Mark “Speedy” Gonzalez, formerly of Liverpool and now Keisuke Honda’s colleague at CSKA Moscow, is a fast and dangerous winger. He will make a surprise start tonight and hope to fill in the holes that the Brazilian wingbacks leave behind them.
Alexis Sanchez might be small, but this fast and technically brilliant winger has been making waves in Italy with youth-incubating Udinese, and has an impressive set of footballing achievements for being only 21. Can he cap his great play with a goal or two against Brazil? This is certainly the biggest game of his career so far.
Expected Result: Brazil take advantage of absent Chile players and hammer the Red-and-Blues 3-0.
A Slight Surprise: Chile manages to give Brazil hell, but loses 2-1.
A real shocker: Chile is fully capable of beating Brazil on a good day or with a dash of luck. They can win 3-2 or so, if they are efficient in front of the goal.
Obi Wan Asterix Says: Its hard to judge with the suspensions, but I will go out on a limb for fun, and because Chile has been fantastic in my eyes over the past two months. 3-2 to Chile. I have to be as daring as they need to be in my prediction!