Kick-off: Monday, 28th June – 7:30pm
Stadium: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Brazil moved effortlessly through into the second round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, after playing out a 0-0 draw with Portugal. While Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo picked himself up the man of the match award, Portugal looked happy enough to settle for a draw which they knew would be enough to get them through to the second round. That meant the game was not as exciting as fans were hoping it to be, but there were chances created to sneak the game by both sides, but a scoreless draw was about right in the end. Both teams move on with no harm done, and both will be looking to build to better things. Punters will be already looking past this match as Brazil have had their odds cut and now stand as outright favourites to win the trophy. Brazil are the only nation to have won the trophy outside of their own continent, and they look best suited to do it all over again. They are a solid side which no team have really come close to exposing any weaknesses in. This is to coach Dunga’s credit as he has done things his way, flying in the face of conventional Brazil style, making sure that Brazil are not going to give anything away cheaply by pressing forward recklessly. Brazil actually set up in a very good formation, which bring an incredibly strong building base in the centre of midfield from the holding players. With the full backs charging forward, it gives free reign to the likes of Kaka to fill in the spaces that opposition leaves as they get stretched across the park.
While Brazil play with a defensive foundation, they are still not a defensive team. Once the ball finds its way to the midfield, the transition to attack is lighting quick. Robinho has been one of the stand out players of the group stages, with his trickery, precision and invention. When Luis Fabiano is prowling around up front, then there is always the chance of goals, and that makes Brazil such a threat. Solid in defence and one of the best, most efficient attacks at the tournament. They are no strangers to South American rivals Chile of course, having played them twice in the South American qualification zone. Brazil won both of those matches, beating Chile in their own back yard 3-0, and then running out 4-2 winners again back in Brazil. The Brazilians apparently do not have much trouble scoring against Chile, as in their only two previous World Cup meetings, Brazil scored four goals on both occasions, winning both times. Brazil simply have the quality to prove that the team which finished second behind them in qualification, are still a way short of being as good as tehm. Coach Dunga will welcome back Kaka and Elano for the match after they both missed the Portugal match. That will make their midfield stronger, as their starting eleven will be complete again. The quiet confidence which Brazil exudes is almost overwhelming, and that is what the Chileans must be feeling as they prepare to face them.
South America are being represented so well at South Africa 2010, with of their participating nations reaching the second round. Now this second round fixture, which was always on the cards, brings together two of the best in what should be a match full of Latin fever. The South American teams are producing quality football, and have seemed to have discovered the fine line between of the balance between attack and defence. Chile have adopted more of a stable side, with coach Marcelo Bielsa bring the players together as one of the most unified teams in the continent. Chile have produced some of the most attractive passing and attacking football at the World Cup so far, maybe even being more adventurous than Brazil, but Chile will be wondering why they have not scored more goals. It is not because they do not have the quality up front and midfield, they do. They are packed full of attacking option, and there is probably not a braver, bolder coach at the finals than Bielsa. He is something of a tinker man, but he shuffles things around with great effect. They just have been as efficient as they should have been. The one question surrounding their potential progress, is whether or not they can keep their heads. In their final group match against Spain, they started much the better team, throwing the European Champions off their stride, but then it all fell down.
Once Chile had fallen behind in the match against Spain, they lost their heads, and it cost them. A red card and two goals down, albeit because of a wonder goal by David Villa, Chile shot themselves in the foot a bit. They will have fancied their chances of at least getting the draw they needed to top the group, which would have lined up a match against Portugal instead of Brazil. But their indiscipline once again, and Chile are the most indiscipline team at the 2010 World Cup, not only cost them the match against Spain, but will have repercussions with players missing from the Brazil match. While Brazil are getting Kaka and Elano back, Chile lose Marco Estrada, Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel. That could prove all the difference when it comes down to the big matches. Spain have yet to pick up even a yellow card at the tournament so far, that is in stark contrast to Chile’s 10. A bold, confident Chile could simply throw caution to the wind and attack Brazil. There is probably little point in them sitting back and inviting pressure, but Brazil are the best counter attacking team in the world, hands down, so it will be interesting to see what Bielsa’s approach to the game is. They are generally a positive and physical side, but getting that all important grip in midfield, could prove a bit to much for Chile.
Match Verdict – Brazil to win 1.35
Brazil will be strong favourites, even though Chile are the strongest Dark Horse in the tournament. While they have played well, while they have produced some great football to watch, they still look a little short in comparison to Brazil. History favours Brazil all of the way on this one, as the qualification home and away fixtures ended in heavy wins for Brazil. The confidence and calmness with which Brazil play is unmatched. In contrast the Chile side looks a bit too hot headed, and that will be their downfall if they cannot keep their heads and concentration.