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Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup Preview: Chile vs. Brazil

Neymar

Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports

Brazil will face Chile in the first match of the knockout round of this 2014 World Cup on Saturday. The match features one of the tournament’s most explosive offenses in the Chilean squad, while Brazil features quite possibly the most well-rounded team in the entire tournament from top to bottom.

Chile will see the return of world class box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal for this game, and his performance on the pitch will be absolutely crucial towards his team advancing to the next round. Chile also possesses Barcelona winger Alexis Sánchez, who is one of the most technically gifted attacking players in the world. When Sanchez and Vidal play well, they cause problems for any defense, including one as talented as Brazil’s. The duo will need to be at the top of their game on Saturday to give Chile a chance to go through.

On the opposite side, Brazil boasts perhaps one of the five best players in the world in Neymar, who is tied atop the scoring leaderboard with Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller at four goals apiece. Neymar, like Sanchez, is incredibly gifted on the ball and a 1v1 nightmare for defenders. He is the key to Brazil’s offensive success and so far in this tournament, as Neymar goes, so goes Brazil.

Chile’s high-tempo attack and incredible work rate will need to be firing on all cylinders tomorrow against a very talented Brazilian squad. There was a bit of a letdown for Chile in their last match against Netherlands, who is not nearly as good on defense as Brazil is, but they were without Vidal. Brazil’s wing backs tend to have a big role in the offense, so if Chile can catch them out of position on the counter attack, goals can be had, especially with David Luiz‘s penchant for bone-headed mistakes.

On defense for Chile, their rock of a center back, Gary Medel, cannot afford any mistakes on Saturday, as the Brazilian front line of Neymar, Fred and Hulk, as well as Oscar and Paulinho, will make them pay if any slip ups occur.

For Brazil, their high pressure in the midfield through Paulinho and Luis Gustavo will be important against Vidal, who is Chile’s engine and usual source of creating attacking chances. If those two can create turnovers near midfield, the Brazilian counter could overwhelm Chile very frequently. Brazil also has a serious aerial advantage on set pieces, as Chile’s defense is a bit on the shorter side. Look for that to be a major problem for Chile when set pieces arise.

Chile has given up a goal in every match so far, and I do not expect that to change on Saturday. Brazil has not yet faced a team with the attacking quality and pace that Chile will bring, but I do expect them to keep it under control.

Prediction: Brazil 3, Chile 1.