After starting the tournament as red hot favourites, the hosts have failed to live up the expectations as favourites. They struggled to get their act together in the group stages and will look to turn up as a new Brazillian side for the opening round of 16 encounter against Chile.
On the other hand, Chile must be on a high after qualifying for the knockouts ahead of Spain. Barcelona duo of Neymar and Alexis Sanchez hold key for their respective sides in the knockouts opener. Let’s see what both the team has in store ahead of the clash between the South American rivals.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is a coach who doesn’t particularly like to change his preferred lineup. So it’s perfectly possible they’ll stay unchanged. If there is a chance for a change, it will be midfielder Fernandinho who will make it into the XI ahead of Paulinho.
Chilean coach Sampaoli will have some decisions to make as his team’s driving force Arturo Vidal is yet to get recovered completely and defender Gary Medel is also a worry ahead of the Round of sixteen clash against the hosts. But it is unlikely that Vidal will be benched for the all-important knockout clash.
Neymar vs. Chile’s Back Three
Neymar entered the World Cup carrying the burden of his nation on his shoulders, and so far, he’s lived upto the expectations. Neymar has been the shining light in a Brazil team that has been a bit shaky in the group stages. His movement and tricks he has in his bag will be a huge problem for Chile’s three defenders, especially back Mauricio Isla and right centre-back Francisco Silva, and they need to be at the top of their game to stop the Barcelona winger.
Brazil’s Midfield vs Chile’s pressing
Unlike the 2013 Confederations Cup, Brazil are failing to establish a link-up between their midfielders and their forwards. This might have hurted the hosts in the group stages and against Chile, a team that is known to press hard, Brazil will look to improve their midfield and transform their team to a cohesive unit. Chile Can press hard for the entire 90 minutes and even Spain, who play possession football can’t get out the way of their pressing. Brazil need to have their task cut out against Chile.
An exciting battle is on the cards in the early kick-off at Belo Horizonte with Brazil going into the match as favourites.