Will this be the end of the dream or will this silence the doubters. Yes I am talking about Brazil here and not Chile. Unbelievable? Not really is the answer. Leave the emotions aside and you will see the chink in the Brazilian armour. Individual ability wise the team is full of talented players who on their day will destroy the opposition with the flair game. At the last World Cup (round of 16), Brazil beat Chile 3-0. Two first half goals from Juan and Fabiano settled the Brazilians and Robinho sealed it just before the hour mark.
The new Messiah
Scolari’s team has looked great in patches but has relied on Neymar too much to give them that extra bit of spark. He has been the go to man for Brazil in this world cup. Every time they are under the pump at the back Brazilian defence is looking to play a long ball to Neymar and hope he will bring some magic. Second goal against Cameroon was an example. This is the stage, world cup at home in Brazil, which can make Neymar go into folklore like Pele, like Maradona and he is on the right track. Can he keep this momentum alive and still chip in goals when it matters for 4 more matches? Time will tell and we shall see. Not long till the story unfolds. Sit tight and watch.
Defence is a concern
Cameroon had a real go at the Brazil defence and not for the first time there were some concerns. Static defending and wrong options taken deep inside their own box is a recipe for inviting trouble. Expectations and pressure with those expectations makes you do wonderful things and in some cases, completely the opposite. David Luiz has well known defensive frailties and last game Marcello showed he is human as well. Dani Alves is prone to a mistake or two every game and mostly its about his positioning. Let’s just say, he is out of position and his team mates comes under pressure. Alves on the other hand contributes much more going forward and that is the part of his game which Brazilians expect will make the difference. Thaigo Silva is the rock and he has played like everyone expected. Overall defence is a concern but a world cup winner like Scolari would have known this from day one. His hopes will be on Neymar and Fred outscoring the opposition all the way through.
Chile might just be too hot
Chile is a team that presses high, presses in numbers, plays high tempo football, has midfield runners who cause mayhem for the defending team and has individuals who can be brilliant on the day. Sanchez upfront and Medel in defence for example. All those things I have mentioned are very easy said than done on the football pitch but they showed all those qualities against the Spaniards.
Credit where due
Will be interesting to see what formation Chile play. They have really impressed with the way they adapt to different formations at the back. Play 4 at the back and they are still at ease. They play 3 at the back and still they look comfortable like duck to water. A team that is able to play different formations at the back and adapt accordingly is a rarity in modern football. I am talking complete change in formations here and not just small changes to it. They can line up 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Against Spain at times it looked like they had 5 at the back. One of those occasions, when being fly on the wall in Jorge Sampoali’s office won’t be a bad idea.
More tactical it will be
Jorge Sampaoli’s team lost to Dutch because the master tactician for Holland, Louis Van Gaal, has seen this type of football Chile is playing now, all before. He was the one who carried Michels and Cryuff’s total football to the new level at Ajax in 90s. He has the personnel to do that for him, players who will give it all for the manager. Brazil will find it difficult to counter Chile in the same way Holland did on the break. Chile will also be more dangerous up front than what Brazil has faced in the tournament so far. Trio of Vargas who played on loan at Valencia, Barcelona man Sanchez and Internacional player Aranguiz running at David Luiz and company will be an interesting battle. End of the day, it might come down to who out of Scolari and Jorge have superior tactics to counter the opposition. Brazil will be up for the fight but Chile team on the ball is too hot for a defence running backwards. Chile will be great to watch if they progress further but they have a mountain to climb and this might just be their game if they get their tactics right. Making the play will be a Brazil problem while Chile can effectively, play like they did against Spain.