Brazil vs Chile World Cup 2014 match preview: Jorge Sampaoli's Chile provide first real test for under-pressure hosts

Can the so far sluggish Brazil overcome the relentless attacking of Chile?

For all the bullishness of Brazil beforehand, and all of the expectation that they will gradually trundle their way through this World Cup, there is also a different sense of excitement about their last-16 game with Chile.

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It is not just that it is a South American derby, or because of the energy of Chilean play in eviscerating Spain.

It is that there is a very discernible sense of danger.

After a group stage in which Brazil’s passage always felt secure, this has a sense of a game in which anything can happen.

All bets are off. Chile are on sufficient form to do real damage to the hosts.

It said much that, following a pre-tournament press conference in which Felipe Scolari and Neymar were so brazen about bringing home a sixth World Cup, the manager was much more restrained yesterday. He conspicuously returned to the theme of taking “every step” as it comes.

“I can’t talk about the final. I’ve to talk about the Chile match... I just focus on my next step, which is Chile.”

The trouble is that Jorge Sampaoli’s side take all of their steps with remarkably quick speed. Where Brazil have been somewhat hesitant and ragged, Chile are predatory and tight.

 

As such, there are two players who may make a difference, and both have Premier League connections. The first is the forward who could well be coming to England, and specifically Liverpool. It is thought Alexis Sanchez may be part of any package which sees Luis Suarez go to Barcelona, but he is here the focal point of a fearsome Chilean attack. Brazil’s defence has so far been open and lacking protection. That could be hugely dangerous against such devastating pace.

It is also where Manchester City’s Fernandinho comes in. All expectations are that Scolari will introduce the midfielder to his team, and finally fix a midfield that has been at once so open but also unable to create opportunities. As Fernandinho repeatedly proved through his first season with City, he excels at such a job. It could make it so much more difficult for Chile to break Brazil down, and also bring proper cohesion to the rest of Scolari’s team.

If they can recover that, they should remain on track.

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