Brazil was able to emerge from the fire against Chile on the first day of the knockout round thanks to some help from the goal post and their goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The Chileans played excellently through a quick offense including a lethal transition, but the same offense missed on some key chances that could be attributed to powers outside of their own control. Brazil's play throughout the match was questionable across many positions which will lead to doubts in their next match; however, the Brazilians were able to squeeze out a win in a match they should have lost based on the talent displayed by the Chileans.
We'll start with the Chileans, who deserved to win this match, but the final score does not always turn out the way it should. Chile with possession of the ball consistently pressured Brazil's defense to the point that the Brazilians began to make mistakes. The strong Chilean offense created many key chances that should have been converted, but they were only able to score one goal in the match. A key point is that the goal posts were also clearly not on Chile's side which was shown on a long shot by Pinilla which ricocheted off the crossbar after it got past Brazilian GK Julio Cesar. Chile also found itself with a beautiful chance on the transition during the stoppage time of the first half to go up 2-1 at the break; however, Aranguiz's close low-shot to the back corner was blocked swiftly by David Luiz. Overall, the Chileans were forced to rely on the transition play because their height was inferior to that of Brazil on special pieces. This ultimately caused their demise as the bodies of the Brazilian defense were able to stick out their limbs at the last second to deflect shots into harmless corner kicks. On the other side of the pitch, despite a shaky start in which the defense gave up what seemed like an own-goal but was awarded to Luiz, Chile's defense settled down and stood tall against the powerful Brazilian attack which was aided by the many miscues of the Brazilian offense (mostly Hulk). Chilean GK Claudio Bravo was the star on the team (not including the PKs) as he kept his team in the match with brilliantly saves against the likes of Neymar. The Chileans should hold their heads high after a well put together performance against the favorites for the title; there is definitely much optimism for the future of the Chilean national team.
Brazil….well let's say they have a lot to work on before their upcoming quarterfinal match.
Offense: There are very few problems with the strong and quick offense of Brazil (most issues come along with the defense). However, their main issue is with their central striker…who fails to really show up in matches. Whether it be Fred or Jo (consistent sub for Fred), Brazil can't find someone that can consistently hold the ball up and be relied upon to take quick strikes and battle for possession in the air with defenders. This is definitely something that needs to be remedied if a title run comes forth; however, Spain was able to win with this problem in 2010, but on the other hand Spain also possessed a consistently strong defense….
Goalkeeper: Before I ripe on the poor defense of Brazil, I thought that I'd single out their one bright spot at this point: GK Julio Cesar. Cesar definitely led the team to the win with some excellent saves during extra time and PKs. He has improved over the last few years to hold talent that can lead this questionable Brazil squad to the title.
Defense: Brazil seemed to be having a hard time holding composure and the defensive line throughout the match. Most of the notable chances Chile created were off of miscues by the Brazilians in the backfield. The confidence to play through the defense to create offensive chances just wasn't apparent in the match. Out of the four players, David Luiz had to save them many times including a breakaway chance before the end of the half; without Luiz blocking the shot with a sliding tackle, the ball was certainly headed for the far corner of the net. The main issue I believe was communication through marking men and creating a sturdy wall; many holes appeared during Chilean attacks that could have easily been filled. If Brazil wishes to make a run to a title, this is the area they must sure up. The defense that the world saw today will in no way save them from the high powered offense of Colombia with young-striker James Rodriguez.
It was a hard-fought win for the Brazilians…if you look solely at the penalty kicks. The chances for a Brazilian demolition at the feet of Chile were numerous and thankfully for Brazil, many of those chances were blown. If I was from Brazil, I would thanking the soccer gods for stealing a win from Chile. And I can definitely tell you one thing…If that same Brazil defense went up against the Colombian team that came out today….well let's say it won't be pretty in Fortaleza.
Goals: BRA: David Luiz – 18'
CHI: Alexis Sanchez – 32'
Discipline: BRA: Dani Alves, Hulk, Jo, Luiz Gustavo
CHI: Francisco Silva, Eugenio Mena, Mauricio Pinilla
Next Match: Quarterfinals: Brazil vs. Colombia; 7/4 – 4:00 pm – Fortaleza
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