In a match considered by many to be the best in the 2014 World Cup Round of 16, Chile took Brazil to the limit. Chile tested the home side’s mettle the entire day. As the pace of the game slowed in the second half it was obvious that it was from the play and tactics of Chile and not the struggle of Brazil. Chile found themselves exactly where they wanted to be, but were denied by the post.
The match was wide open in the first half and Brazil looked dangerous on almost every entrance into the final third. They were using their pace and relying on Neymar to open up space. This is when the falls started to take place and referee Howard Webb was allowing the professional fouls. Neymar was slammed several times and the theatrics followed. The fouls were just the start of a different game plan from Chile and coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Chile is a team that likes to play with finesse and come forward. The full backs are often just additional midfielders. They found a plan B and executed it to perfection. Chile had plenty back in defense as their surprise tactic, rather than pushing more and more forward. The frustrated Brazil into long, inaccurate passes. Chile got numbers back in defense that resulted in Brazil’s possession and passing accuracy in the final third being below 50%. As they remained tight at the back, the efforts to score became few and far between, but they were smart attacks. There were flashes of their flair on display occasionally.
Chile did not take chances and they made the playing field much more level. They led in possession for the majority of the match although they decided to play for penalty kicks once extra time hit. It forced Brazil in to desperation tactics. Hulk took shots from 45 yards. Neymar tried to take on three or four defenders. Chile’s efforts were signified by the look on Gary Medel‘s face when his cumulative injuries were too much after an incredible defensive effort.
This game was disjointed at times in the second half. That is the way that Chile wanted it with their changed game plan. It was surprising, but it worked. Chile got the match exactly where they wanted it to be with penalty kicks. Julio Cesar and the post were the difference makers in the end.