The 2014 World Cup is now entering the Round of 16 where the hosts Brazil will face South American rivals Chile in the first knockout stage match. Brazil was able to win Group A while Chile finished second in Group B behind The Netherlands. The hosts are favored to win the match, but anyone who has watched Chile knows that they have the talent and ability to shock the football world and come out on top.
Brazil achieved their first goal at this World Cup by winning Group A, but now have to try and achieve their ultimate goal of winning the competition. If the hosts are not able to beat Chile, the backlash from the local media will be astronomical. The pressure on them to move deep into the Round of 16 is palpable, but to move past Chile they will need to improve the balance of their team.
Although during the group stage Brazil only allowed two goals, their defense definitely needs to improve to keep Chile’s attackers at bay. No team that the hosts faced during the group stage had the ability to attack as well as Chile, so the back line will have to stay focused. The talent on their back line is there but each player outside of captain Thiago Silva is often too concerned with adding to the attack rather than staying focused on organization at the back. Marcelo, Dani Alves and David Luiz all like to go forward, and while that has not yet been exploited, it most certainly can be by Chile and their ability to counter attack. The central midfielders will also have to be very disciplined on the ball and try to keep Chilean counter attacks from developing.
Neymar has been the focal point and best player so far for Brazil, and he will have to continue to play at a high level for them to move on. He is a World Cup leading goal-scorer thus far with four goals, but the hosts have to be worried about their lack of balanced scoring. Having a player with the talent like Neymar is a great luxury for any team, but it can also hinder them when he is not able to score. It shows a lack of a balanced attack. Brazil’s main striker, Fred, has played a very sub par tournament so far, only scoring one goal that was actually an offsides but not called back. Manager Scolari may need to consider replacing Fred to try and get more goals out of his attack outside of Neymar.
A plus for the Brazilian’s attack is the fact that Chile are used to using a formation that deploys a back three defensive line rather than the normally used back four. While this formation can be exploited by good attacks, it is not as vulnerable to allowing goals as one might think. Chile has only allowed three goals so far in the World Cup and that is because they are used to playing in this system. The pressure will be on Brazil to find a way to break down Chile, and the goals may need to come from someone other than Neymar. Chile will most definitely have an eye on the top scorer and make sure he does not get time and space on the ball.
Brazil will face Chile in the first match of the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. The eyes of the football world will be on the two South American nations as both look to exploit the other’s defense and move onto the quarterfinals. It is poised to be a very exciting match because of both sides’ ability to attack and the talent that each possesses.
Prediction: Brazil 3-2 Chile
Commentary By Max Petkevicius
Read more Guardian Liberty Voice Coverage on the FIFA World Cup Round of 16