Chile are out of the World Cup after losing 3-0 to Brazil at Ellis Park. Goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho put the Selecao through to the quarter finals, eliminating Marcelo Bielsa’s great entertainers in the process.
Brazil beat Chile at the set piece and on the counter, exposing vulnerabilities apparent in Bielsa’s side through qualifying and during the tournament. In staying true to an attacking philosophy the Chileans won over legions of admirers at this World Cup before succumbing to a side with added strength and big game savvy.
In truth Brazil were the better side throughout. This was Chile’s weakest performance of the four they put in at the World Cup but this was largely down to the fact that Brazil were excellent. From the moment Juan rose at the back post to power in a Maicon corner on 34 minutes the result was never in doubt.
Like England in Bloemfontein a day earlier, once behind the Chileans had to chase the game and left themselves woefully exposed to a team who appear most threatening when they attack on the break. Without Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel, the best defenders in the squad, it soon became apparent that Chile had little chance.
Just three minutes after the first goal Luis Fabiano flicked a long pass on to Robinho. Chile were now faced with a three on three situation which Brazil worked perfectly. Robinho found Kaka on the edge of the box who played a wonderful first time through ball back into the path of Luis Fabiano who calmly rounded Claudio Bravo before slotting the ball into the empty net.
Marcelo Bielsa looked apoplectic on the sidelines and Chile struggled to impose themselves in the way they had in previous games. It is probably fair to say that the coach had made an error in starting with Jean Beausejour in the key position off main striker Humberto Suazo. Without the subtle passing of Matias Fernandez or Jorge Valdivia in the Number 10 position Chile struggled for fluency.
At half time Valdivia came on in place of Mark Gonzalez and Beausejour moved out to the left wing. Chile instantly looked a more balanced side but could not break through the yellow wall in front of them. Alexis Sanchez was swamped each time he touched the ball and the visibly unfit Suazo struggled to get into the game.
Gilberto Silva and Ramires were excellent in shielding the back four but it was the latter’s driving forward run that created Brazil’s third goal. He intercepted a stray pass on half way and turned defence into attack in an instant. Powering to the edge of the box he sucked in a trio of Chile defenders before playing in Robinho who curled the ball around Bravo and into the far corner.
The game was over as a contest but Chile kept working hard. Valdivia hit a dipping volley just over the bar and Suazo forced a decent save from Julio Cesar after cleverly working some space in the box. How different this tournament could have been for Chile had Suazo not suffered a torn hamstring during a pre-tournament freindly. The striker was top scorer in South American qualifying and the side has no real replacement for the cutting edge he provides.
The final 15 minutes were a non-event. Chile ran out of ideas and Brazil ran out the clock. This was an impressive, efficient performance from Dunga’s side who will take some shifting from this tournament. The defence, dominated by captain Lucio is tough, uncompromising and solid while any team with the attacking talents of Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano can only pose a threat. Their quarter final against Holland promises to be an intriguing affair.
For their part Chile can be proud of their achievements in South Africa. They have won over thousands of new fans with a wonderful brand of attractive, passing football and reached the knockout stages for only the third time in their history. The squad remains relatively young too and the likes of Alexis Sanchez will only get better. They are certainly a team to watch as they develop and could dazzle again in Brazil in four years time. Keeping Bielsa may be the key to those aims.