Saturday’s World Cup Match Previews
Brazil v Chile
Round of 16
Kick off: 5pm
The last 16 kicks off with a cracker as hosts Brazil face fellow South Americans Chile. The pressure is entirely with Brazil – the nation expects nothing less than outright victory in this tournament. But Chile are no slouches and enter the game with tremendous confidence and will be by no means in awe of Brazil.
Brazil have delivered goals, but this is largely down to the contribution of Neymar and there are real concerns about their reliance on the Barcelona star offensively and question marks over the strength of their midfield trio – Hulk, Oscar or the much maligned Fred.
Arguably Chile have greater strength in the midfield area with Arturo Vidal of Juventus set to re-enter the fray to pull the strings and they also have their own Barcelona forward to call on in the guise of Alexis Sanchez – who has seized the opportunity to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi at club level to impress playing at the heart of the attack.
With both sides well accustomed to the conditions this is set to be an exhilarating, fast and furious affair. Although Brazil will be favourites, Chile have every chance and this one may go to the wire. A high scoring game going either way 3-2, or a 2-2 draw with the winner to be decided on penalties.
Colombia v Uruguay
Round of 16
Kick off: 9pm
Bite-bye to Uruguay’s chances seems to be the general consensus of opinion following Luis Suarez’s mindless act of attrition against Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. It has over course completely overshadowed Uruguay’s qualification to the knockout stage and taken the spotlight entirely off the impressive Colombians.
They have also had the luxury of a fully fit squad to pick from and were able to rest eight players in the last game of the group. The fact that they were still able to mark up an impressive 4-1 win over Japan demonstrates the strength in depth they possess.
Uruguay will represent Colombia’s toughest opposition to date, but without the cutting edge of Suarez to call on (no pun intended), they may struggle for goals as they did against Costa Rica unless the much vaunted Edison Cavani starts to weigh in with his share of goals. He is likely to be joined by veteran goal-poacher Diego Forlan, a solid, reliable and professional servant for his nation and every bit the antithesis of Suarez.
However fear of being out-gunned, may leave Uruguay inclined to take on a safety first approach, playing five at the back as they did against Italy initially in a bid to soak up the pressure and play counter attack.
If so, this is likely to be a cagey affair between two teams very familiar with each other’s style of play – suggesting a close game decided either way by the odd goal in three.