Chile (2-1-0) vs. Brazil (2-0-1), Noon (ET)
06/28/2014 8:11 AM
06/28/2014 8:11 AM
Belo Horizonte, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - South American rivals Brazil and Chile open up the second round of the World Cup at the Estadio Mineirao on Saturday in an intriguing contest.
It is also a matchup that Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari believes will be a serious test for his side.
"If I could choose another opponent, I would," Scolari said a few days ago when asked about playing Chile. "I think they're the trickiest side we could have been drawn against. They have everything."
Chile advanced to the knockout round from a difficult Group B that included the Netherlands, Spain and Australia.
La Roja started its tournament with wins over Australia and Spain to book a place in the next round before sitting a few key players in the group finale against the Netherlands, which topped Chile, 2-0, to win the group.
One of the players that Chile head coach Jorge Sampaoli decided to rest against the Dutch was midfielder Arturo Vidal, who underwent knee surgery prior to the start of the tournament and who is expected to come straight back into the lineup against the hosts on Saturday.
Vidal, along with Alexis Sanchez and Charles Aranguiz, will provide the biggest offensive threats for Chile, which will hope to exploit a Brazil back line that tends to get forward a lot and could be susceptible to counter attacks.
As expected, Brazil finished atop Group A after wins over Croatia and Cameroon and a 0-0 draw with Mexico.
The Selecao netted seven goals in three group-stage matches, including four from star forward Neymar, despite not appearing to hit top gear.
Now, Scolari knows his team must take its play to the next level to get past a tough Chile side.
"I hope that Chile don't qualify for the last 16," the coach said back in December after the draw for the World Cup. "I would prefer to face any other side. They are intelligent and their style of play doesn't suit us. It would be better to play against a European team."
Scolari didn't get his wish, but his team may be able to exploit a height advantage against Chile to get to the quarterfinals.
Against Australia in the group stage, Chile's shorter defenders struggled to cope with the aerial threat of Tim Cahill, while the Dutch scored on a header from Leroy Fer in the second half of the group finale to take the lead.
Brazil should be a real threat from any set-piece opportunity in the attacking third with players like Fred, David Luiz and Thiago Silva able to get on the other end of crosses.
Neymar has been as good as advertised so far, while Brazil's threat in the air will also pose a stiff challenge for the Chileans.
A win for Chile would give the club its first berth in the quarterfinals at a World Cup since 1962, and Sanchez is confident that his side will make history.
"We have respect for them [Brazil] but I think we are going to beat them," he said.
"We came to this World Cup to make history. We beat the world champions and, although we had a slip-up against Holland, we are going out to try and win the Cup."