Brazil v Chile
Venue: Belo Horizonte
Date: Saturday, 28 June Kick-off: 5.00pm
Without doubt, this is the most eagerly anticipated tie of the World Cup thus far. Brazil have stuttered into winning Group A after unconvincing performances in all three of their games, in what was seen as an easy group. Chile on the other hand, well and truly set the tournament alight with their energetic and gung-ho displays. Personally, the demolition of Spain was the most enjoyable game to watch so far.
There are concerns with injuries for both sides. Brazil are currently doing their best to get David Luiz fit and ready for this evening’s game after suffering with a back injury but many anticipate the former Chelsea defender to start. Chile are desperate to see if Gary Medel is able to play, who also has a strain, with Jorge Sampaoli stating if the game was yesterday he would not be selected. The Cardiff man would be a massive loss after having an excellent start to his tournament.
Previously we thought the starting XI was more or less sorted for Brazil with Hulk and Ramires being swapped dependent on the level of opposition. However there is a question whether or not Fernandinho will come into replace Paulinho who has played poorly in previous matches. Whatever side is selected we can very much expect the strategy to be the same- attacking full backs with inverted wingers cutting in and shooting.
Against Mexico, Brazil found it very difficult to get behind the defence, as they had no-one able to run off the last man. Fred just does not give you that option.
Spain struggled against Chile and The Netherlands, as they had the same problem with just Diego Costa and a lack of pace to get behind the high line of the defence. Could we see that again tonight?
Another concern with Brazil is that they have no Plan B, and if they go behind or what they are doing is not working, they may find themselves in a lot of trouble.
Croatia found themselves getting in between the defence and midfield of Brazil all too often, Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez love to work the channels and drop deep to find the ball, and will be licking their lips if there is space to use.
This is definitely the least Brazilian side we have ever seen and one area where they may take advantage, is in the aerial battle. Chile are the smallest side in the competition and set pieces could be key for the hosts.
Thiago Silva almost scored twice against Mexico from corners, and this may be an area Brazil could focus on. Brazil will be trying to counter Chile’s attacks by getting the ball to Neymar and Oscar down the flanks, as quickly as possible and if these two players are able to perform, then getting behind the high Chile line is possible.
The way Chile play, means the opposition wingers get the ball more often than anyone else. As we saw against The Netherlands, Arjen Robben was fantastic but was given the space to perform. In Oscar and Neymar out wide, we have Brazil’s best players. Could this play massively in to Brazil’s hands?
This is going to be a tough game to call, which should make it a thriller. Brazil obviously have the better individuals, but Chile has a team and a strategy which each player has bought into, and it is working.
Chile should win the central midfield battle, combining man to man marking and pressing which worked like a dream against Spain. However, if Scolari makes enough subtle changes to tactically match Chile and supply Neymar and Oscar, Brazil can win, but by doing this they have to attack.
So far though, Scolari hasn’t shown us anything to say there is much tactical flexibility, but against Cameroon we saw a more direct approach which may trouble Chile. If Brazil are to win they are likely to have to concede on the way. Expect an absolute cracker of a match.
Advised Bet: Over 2.5 goals – 7/10 Ladbrokes
Colombia v Uruguay
Venue: Estadio do Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
Date: Saturday, 28 June Kick-off: 9.00pm
Two more South American sides meet in the later kick off. Colombia have not only dug out some fantastic results but have also put on some excellent performances with James Rodriguez being the star performer. Uruguay scraped through the group after a Diego Godin winner verses Italy in a rather eventful tie.
Colombia could afford to rest many players for their final group game against Japan and still managed to comfortably win. Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez are two of the main players expected to return.
Uruguay have one key omission from their side, you may have heard of him. Luis Suarez is out. Not sure why- Hopefully we will hear more in the next few days. Diego Forlan will come in and replace the Liverpool forward. Captain Diego Lugano is also unlikely to be named having failed to recover from a knee injury.
Uruguay will be devastated that they have lost their main man Luis Suarez, but many forget they still have Edinson Cavani who in my opinion is just as important to whether or not Uruguay perform. Óscar Tabárez will also be looking to take advantage of other areas of the pitch. In each game, the Uruguayans have looked particularly dangerous from set pieces, with Diego Godin’s goal against Italy, being a prime example of this.
Uruguay’s best performance was against England where they smartly marked both Gerrard and Rooney out the game. Up against the incredibly dangerous James Rodriguez, they’ll be looking to impose the same tactic with the shrewd Arévalo Ríos likely to be given that role once more. Ríos was brilliant given the same instructions against Rooney and will be have to be equally excellent today.
The most important piece of the Uruguay puzzle will be Diego Forlan- where he plays and how he performs. The former Atletico striker started against Costa Rica, in the opening game and played in a number ten role, linking midfield to attack. It failed miserably and it was a big reason for that dreadful defeat.
When Suarez returned versus England, Cavani dropped deeper to play in that position and was absolutely sensational. Cavani was highly impressive as he both marked Gerrard out the game and contributed massively to attacking play. Today we may see Cavani kept in this position while Forlan pushes on, which would be interesting. I cannot see Uruguay winning though, if Cavani is moved.
Colombia have looked brilliant so far with their 4-2-3-1 which has given them lots of width to get the most out of Cuadrado, Rodriguez and Ibarbo. Exciting to watch, with both a good system of play and excellent players. Rodriguez has been shifted inside to dictate play, behind the striker and has pulled the strings, while Cuadrado has shown why he is one of the best dribblers in the world, with dangerous runs all game from out right.
Colombia will be happy to sit deeper and concede the possession battle as they have done against both Japan and Ivory Coast where they effectively attacked on the counter.
The Uruguay performance will be dependent on the Forlan and Cavani combination. The Costa Rica game was not a good rehearsal and I cannot see a massive change in that tactical relationship. Colombia are likely to have the better chances, and James Rodrigues and Juan Cuadrado should be the difference today.
Advised Bet – Colombia win – 11/10 Coral