Your daily World Cup tip sheet for who’s playing when, and what to watch for. We'll deliver a new briefing the evening before every game day, setting up the matches and pinpointing the underlying storylines.
Brazil vs Chile
Of the two all-South American last-16 clashes, this is most definitely of the heavyweight variety, a rematch of last November’s entertaining friendly at Rogers Centre in Toronto, won 2-1 by Brazil. This promises to be a very different style of encounter though, with another all-South American matchup against either Colombia or Uruguay awaiting the winner in the quarter-final. For Brazil, it will be a case of carrying on where it left off in last Monday’s 4-1 thrashing of Cameroon to wrap up the round-robin stage. Forward Neymar da Santos Silva Jr. has starred as advertised in the tournament, with his four goals thus far placing him atop the race for the Golden Boot alongside Argentine rival Lionel Messi and Germany’s Thomas Mueller. Brazil’s attacking outlook will also have improved by the addition of Fred on to the scoresheet in that win against the Indomitable Lions, giving the team seven goals in its first three games. Chile may have lost its last group game, but a 2-0 loss to the in-form Dutch at this tournament is nothing to be ashamed about, particularly when it had already qualified for the knockout stages courtesy of impressive wins over Spain and Australia. The team’s lithe and skilled players could play havoc against the Brazilian defence, and in forward Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona, Chile possesses one of the genuine stars of this tournament, a fact club teammate Neymar is likely more than familiar with.
Uruguay vs Colombia
Assuming the Uruguayans actually take the field – the team
had mooted a possible boycott of this game in response to the
four-month suspension handed down to striker Luis Suarez by
FIFA for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in last Tuesday’s
match – they are likely to use the incident as a rallying cry.
A semi-finalist four years ago in South Africa, an embattled
Uruguayan squad is currently circling the wagons, with captain
Diego Lugano stating, “We would like a fairer world, but that
world simply does not exist.” No matter. Coming up against
South American rival Colombia, La Celeste would have had their
hands full with or without their nefarious nibbler up front.
Sixteen years after its last appearance in the World Cup
finals, Jose Pekerman’s team is back with a bang, having
cruised through the group stage playing some dashing soccer at
times. The play of Porto striker Jackson Martinez and AS Monaco
playmaker James Rodriguez has more than made up for the absence
of superstar striker Radamel Falcao, and having won all three
games so far – albeit in a weak Group C – confidence is
skyrocketing that the team can make the last eight of a World
Cup for the very first time.