In this game artisans take on artists for a place in the quarter finals. Whilst nothing in that statement sounds unusual, the casting of Brazil as artisans certainly is. Dunga’s Brazil are solid, pragmatic, ruthless and effective while Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile play a game based on the notion that the most effective way to win is to play beautifully.
Chile are taking part in the knockout stages of a World Cup for only the third time in their history but despite Friday’s defeat at the hands of Spain certainly merit their place. La Roja played some wonderful attacking, passing football in beating Honduras and Switzerland and gave Spain a real game despite playing with ten men for an hour.
Chile’s high pressure, territory based game plan does leave them open to the counter attack however and Spain exploited that to good effect. Brazil won both games in qualifying with a game plan based around sucking Chile in before hitting them on the break. Marcelo Bielsa has had a week to formulate a plan to prevent history repeating itself but it may be easier said than done.
Brazil won their group comfortably as expected. They brushed North Korea aside with consummate ease before beating Ivory Coast and drawing with Portugal. They are a side built from the back with the bite of Felipe Melo and Gilberto Silva preferred to the flair of Ronaldinho.
Dunga is under pressure from the media and fans at home who dislike his methods without being able to question his results. While popular campaigns for the introduction of young and gifted home based players such as Neymar and Ganso failed to sway the coach, he has time bought by an impressive performance in qualifying and victories at the Copa America and Confederations Cup.
Chile will be without central defender Waldo Ponce and midfielder Marco Estrada through suspension but Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez return. Humberto Suazo may replace Jorge Valdivia up front as Chile continue to search for a sharper cutting edge. Marcelo Bielsa’s biggest dilemma concerns his defence. Should he persist with his favoured back three or play with four defenders in a bid to nullify Brazil’s pace and incisiveness down the flanks.
Kaka returns from suspension while Elano could feature having recovered from an ankle injury. Felipe Melo (ankle) and Julio Baptista (knee) will both face late fitness tests before any decision on their fitness is made. The side will be built around the creative skills of Kaka and Robinho and the continued goal threat of Luis Fabiano. Maicon and Michel Bastos will give ample width from full back.
Matias Fernandez (Chile) – If Chile are to stand any chance against Brazil they must retain possession and score a goal(s). Fernandez is central to both aims. The trequartista operates in the way of a traditional number 10, distributing the ball and setting the rhythm of play. His vision is crucial in creating chances for the front three.
Robinho (Brazil) – Despite all his troubles at club level, Robinho has been outstanding during this tournament. Kaka is yet to find his best form but Robinho has taken on the mantle of creative force in chief. He is enjoying his football and it shows. Manchester City may never quite see the best of him but the famous yellow shirt is certainly bringing it out.