Brazil-Chile: High-tempo, high-tempered
What's on the line
Chile seemed content to play for a draw by the end of its loss Friday to Spain, but the price it pays for that result is a second-round matchup with Group G winner Brazil, one of the tournament favorites. In a World Cup in which South American teams have impressed so greatly, Monday's matchup is the first time in the 2010 tournament we will see two CONMEBOL teams pitted against each other.
Brazil and Chile have a long history, having qualified in the same region -- the teams have met 66 times, with Chile winning only seven of those matches. This game is one of the more important meetings in recent history, though, with the last World Cup meeting between the two coming in 1998. Brazil is looking to continue building momentum after a largely successful group campaign, while Chile hopes to rebound from its loss to Spain and make a deep run toward the final.
Style and tactics
Brazil won its group in a decidedly un-Brazil-like way: using defensive prowess and counterattacks. The Selecao looked disinterested in its group finale against Portugal, where it seemed both squads were happy to play for a draw. That will have to change against Chile, which would rather not play than play negatively. Kaka will return against Chile after sitting out the match against Portugal, resuming his place as the Selecao's primary playmaker and engine in the midfield. Look for Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano up top to be the difference-makers.
Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa was less than thrilled with his team's performance against Spain, despite the fact the one-goal loss got it through to the knockouts. For the first 37 minutes, Chile looked like the better team against the Spaniards, its attacking style paying dividends in possession and holding stats. But Chile's downfall came from its main weakness this World Cup -- discipline. Chile has committed more fouls than any other team, and Bielsa will have to keep his players' tempers in check against Brazil. If they want to keep the ball in Brazil's half, they must be able to keep possession without fouling.
Players to watch
Maicon, Brazil. The burly fullback has one goal already to his name this World Cup, and it's hard to imagine he won't find more before Brazil ends its tournament. Even with attacking players such as Fabiano or Robinho up top, Maicon provides a thrilling option on the wing and is without a doubt one of the most exciting players to watch on this Selecao side. Brazil is hardly lacking for offensive options, but expect Maicon to get involved up top and possibly create huge problems for Chile on the counter.
Kaka, Brazil. The Selecao's midfield magician sat out the draw against Portugal with a red-card suspension, and his team clearly missed the creativity he brings. Kaka will have to help Brazil recover from that dour draw and earn a bit more offensive flair. He has not been particularly impressive in this Cup, either, so he will surely want to start the knockout rounds with a good performance and help improve his reputation from this 2010 Cup.
Defensive line, Chile. The fact that starting defenders Gary Medel and Wando Ponce will miss Monday's game with yellow-card suspensions no doubt is weighing on Bielsa, who will have to rely on young, inexperienced replacements on the backline. Whether the makeshift backline can hold off Brazil's considerable attack could be key to how long Chile can stay competitive. Midfielder Marco Estrada also will sit out Monday's game with a red-card suspension.
Claudio Bravo, Chile. La Roja's goalkeeper hadn't let in a shot until the game against Spain, when he committed a huge error by coming out to meet Fernando Torres' effort and leaving the goal open for David Villa to net his incredible effort. Bravo at times faced a torrent of shots from the Spaniards' strikers, but his ability to recover and stay strong could come into play again if he concedes early against Brazil. How will he deal with the Selecao's constant pressure?
What we can expect
A high-tempo, high-energy and high-tempered affair. With squads that meet as frequently as these two do, emotions are bound to be at a frenzy when the prize is a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals. Chile likely will look to attack early and perhaps grab a goal so it can sit back and absorb the Brazilian efforts. Brazil might feel renewed by the presence of Kaka and Robinho, who also missed the Portugal match, and could get on the board early and often.
Revenge. Brazil and Chile were the first- and second-ranked teams in CONMEBOL qualifying, respectively, and only one point separated the teams. The difference essentially came down to their two head-to-head results -- which favored Brazil 7-2. Chile no doubt will have those routs in mind as it prepares for this match, hoping to take home the one rematch that would mean so much more than any qualifying game.
Brazil will win yet again, further reinforcing its dominance over other South American squads and in this World Cup. But this game will be nothing if not entertaining. Chile plays an extremely attractive style of football, and Brazil will have to develop at least some of its own flair to keep up with La Roja. Though the defensive mindset its coach has enforced will remain, Brazil should match its Chilean opponents in creativity and spark. Brazil 3, Chile 1.