Tim Vickery Column: Brazil improving but will face stiff opposition in the form of Chile

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Luiz Felipe Scolari has always said that he would prefer not to meet South American opposition in the 2014 knock out stages.  Now he has no choice.  Brazil’s part of the draw has turned into a mini Copa America, with a quarter final where the winners of Brazil against Chile take on the victors of Colombia versus Uruguay.

The second of those matches can wait.  The immediate concern is Chile, a team walking with a swagger of confidence, despite Monday’s 2-0 loss to Holland.  The Chileans are justified in thinking they have the best team in their history; a group of players have developed together, making the transition from promise to reality.  And they are equipped with an idea, a philosophy of play implanted by Marcelo Bielsa and given continuity by Jorge Sampaoli.

Wherever the game, whoever the opponents, Chile seek to impose themselves on the match, playing high tempo football in the opponent’s half of the field, throwing both full backs forward in a constant quest to create two against one situations down the flanks.  Given that Brazil are so often vulnerable in the space behind attacking full backs Daniel Alves and Marcelo, it promises to be an intriguing duel.

Brazil, whatever Scolari says in public, will consider themselves firm favourites.  On the one hand they have tradition on their side; Chile’s World Cup campaigns of 1962, 1998 and 2010 all ended when they came up against Brazil.  From a local perspective it is hard to believe that the five times world champions can lose at home to a country that has never even won the Copa America.

And also there is the hope that Chile’s aggressive style might play into the hands of Brazilian strengths.  The two goals Chile conceded against Holland are a case in point.  The first came from a set piece, when Chile’s lack of defensive height was exposed.  The second was the result of a swift counter-attack, a risk Chile always run by pushing up so high.  Given Brazil’s potency from set pieces and counter-attacks, there should be opportunities for Neymar and company.

Neymar, of course, added two more goals to his collection on Monday against Cameroon.  Chile’s plan will clearly be to strangle his supply line, to win the midfield battle so that the ball does not reach Brazil’s number ten in areas of the pitch where he can cause problems  - ie the entire opposition half.  There were times in the first half against Cameroon when Brazil’s midfield duo of Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho were outnumbered by three opposing players.  The Africans won control of midfield for a while and began to be able to slip the ball into those vulnerable spaces behind the full backs.  Matters improved after the interval with the introduction of Fernandinho, who must be a candidate to start Saturday’s game in place of Paulinho.  Some of this may have been the result of Cameroon running out of gas, but the role played by the Manchester City midfielder in Brazil’s final two goals – giving a fine pass for one and scoring the other – surely caught the eye.

Scolari probably took more pleasure from these goals than he did from Neymar’s memorable first half pair.  Neymar’s brilliance is a given in this team.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine Brazil winning the World Cup without their number ten playing the starring role.  Goal number three was the first in the tournament for under-pressure centre forward Fred.  And goal number four may even have been even more important, not least because it happened after Neymar had been substituted.

Oscar won the ball by snapping into a tackle close to the edge of the Cameroon area.  He played centrally into Fred, whose sharp return ball was neatly laid off by Oscar into the path of Fernandinho, who scored with a poke finish across the keeper.

It was a goal filled with memories of last year’s triumphant Confederations Cup campaign; the high press, the little partnerships, the centre forward proficient at linking the play with his back to goal, the midfielder capable of bursting beyond the strikers to shoot at goal – except this time it was Fernandinho rather than Paulinho, a nod towards the future as Brazil seek to build momentum en route to winning the big prize.

Read more:

> Tim Vickery Column- Scolari may turn to Ramires for stability against Mexico
 

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January 29, 2015
22:30Report: Manchester United midfielder Anderson close to sealing Internacional switch
22:19Report: Schalke 04 defender Felipe Santana set to join Olympiacos
22:09Grêmio forward Júnior Viçosa joins Swiss Challenge League side FC Chiasso on a free transfer
15:41Guerrero seeks Europe return
15:10Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho taking Ronaldinho inspiration
14:00Lucas Lima explains why he decided to stay at Santos
13:52Wolfsburg make bid for Fluminense's Kenedy; an English club also enquired
13:41Neymar dreams about first Olympic Gold medal
13:38Cruzeiro have a deal in place to sign talented youngster Pará from Bahia
13:34São Paulo's offer for Éder Álvarez Balanta has been rejected
11:42Manchester United's Rafael takes up golf while recovering
11:27Chelsea's Willian: 'There was more pressure at Corinthians'
11:17Chelsea's Diego Costa handed violent conduct charge
11:09Willian desperate for a trophy with Chelsea
January 28, 2015
20:41New Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista has "huge desire to play in the Premier League"
18:11Pereira could be on way out at Manchester United
18:02Chelsea: Mourinho backs Diego Costa
17:02Milan and Valencia consider Paulinho bids
16:00Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca denies he is joining Shanghai SIPG for the money
15:51Report: Juventus close in on €11 million deal for Fluminense midfielder Gerson
15:43Grêmio officials deny defender Rhodolfo is set to join Internazionale on loan
14:43Atlético-PR's Marcos Guilherme wanted by Bayern Munich and Shakhtar
14:09Manchester City's Fernandinho chosen by Shakhtar fans as the best Brazilian in their history
14:06Roma's offer for Luiz Adriano considered low by Shakhtar
13:20Manchester United watch Benfica duo
13:06Phillippe Coutinho continues to impress
12:57Diego Costa accused of stamping
12:50Mourinho: 'My Ramires is back'
12:40Filipe Luís a doubt for Chelsea
12:22Cruzeiro want Felipe Gedoz from Brugge but a transfer is difficult
12:17Alexandre Pato interests Everton
January 27, 2015
23:37Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa praises Chelsea manager José Mourinho
21:52Report: Fenerbahçe target Grêmio forward Marcelo Moreno
21:39Cruzeiro agree deal to sign defender Eugenio Mena on a free transfer from Santos
21:29São Paulo loan defender Luis Ricardo to Brasileirão Série B side Botafogo
16:39Real Madrid target David Luiz
16:05Lucas Leiva reveals Gerrard's Wembley promise
15:41McDermott praises ‘outstanding’ Liverpool midfielder Coutinho
14:50São Paulo to sign Adrián Centurión from Racing
14:41Brazil U20's Marcos Guilherme says Uruguay's Facundo Castro called him a 'monkey' several times
12:05Luiz Adriano will only leave if the offer satisfies Shakhtar
12:00Éverton Ribeiro is in London to have his Al-Ahli medical
11:56Neymar thinks Cristiano Ronaldo should be punished
11:54Manchester United eye up Marquinhos
11:39Coutinho: 'We must dominate Chelsea'
11:30Chelsea's Diego Costa eyes European golden boot
11:02PSG target Manchester United's Pereira
January 26, 2015
22:32Midfielder Lucas Silva "felt emotional" during Real Madrid unveiling
22:03Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista given work permit to secure Arsenal move
21:55Report: Milan ready to rival Al Ahli Club bid for Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro
January 29, 2015
14:00Lucas Lima explains why he decided to stay at Santos
13:52Wolfsburg make bid for Fluminense's Kenedy; an English club also enquired
13:41Neymar dreams about first Olympic Gold medal
13:38Cruzeiro have a deal in place to sign talented youngster Pará from Bahia
13:34São Paulo's offer for Éder Álvarez Balanta has been rejected
January 28, 2015
14:43Atlético-PR's Marcos Guilherme wanted by Bayern Munich and Shakhtar
14:09Manchester City's Fernandinho chosen by Shakhtar fans as the best Brazilian in their history
14:06Roma's offer for Luiz Adriano considered low by Shakhtar
12:22Cruzeiro want Felipe Gedoz from Brugge but a transfer is difficult
12:17Alexandre Pato interests Everton
January 27, 2015
14:50São Paulo to sign Adrián Centurión from Racing
14:41Brazil U20's Marcos Guilherme says Uruguay's Facundo Castro called him a 'monkey' several times
12:05Luiz Adriano will only leave if the offer satisfies Shakhtar
12:00Éverton Ribeiro is in London to have his Al-Ahli medical
11:56Neymar thinks Cristiano Ronaldo should be punished
January 26, 2015
16:41Douglas Costa will be happy to continue at Shakhtar if they reject Chelsea's offer
12:04Darío Conca will earn more than Neymar at Shanghai Dongya
11:53Luiz Adriano sees advantage in playing in Italy and admits AS Roma interest
11:47Paulinho wants clarification over his Tottenham future
January 24, 2015
13:45Santos trying to sell Patito Rodríguez
13:40Tite says he wants Jádson to stay at Corinthians
13:35Fluminense coach Cristóvão says Fred is close to renewing his contract
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13:26Cruzeiro president says Real Madrid paid what they asked for Lucas Silva
January 23, 2015
12:46Internacional might find it difficult to hold onto Aránguiz
12:42Álvaro Pereira to leave São Paulo and join Estudiantes
12:40Santos sign Marquinhos Gabriel on loan
12:37Cruzeiro will unveil De Arrascaeta today
12:33Douglas Costa confirms Shakhtar rejected Chelsea's initial offer
January 22, 2015
13:47Douglas Coutinho will go to Holland, says Doyen Group's representative
13:43Fluminense striker Fred has an offer from China and can leave soon
13:25Bernard again says he's unhappy at Shakhtar
13:17Lucas Silva's father confirms the rapprochement of Real Madrid
13:11Real Madrid willing to meet Cruzeiro's demands for Lucas Silva
January 20, 2015
15:12Jádson wants to continue at Corinthians
15:07Flamengo wants Cícero and Walter from Fluminense
14:46Fluminense coach Cristóvão also admits Conca is on his way out of the club
14:12Agent says De Arrascaeta went to Cruzeiro because of Internacional's delay
14:05Brazil U20 recover from the loss against Uruguay and overcomes Venezuela
January 19, 2015
13:35Montillo intends to return to Brazil and has an offer from Flamengo
13:28Werley released by Grêmio to negotiate with Santos
13:25Grêmio confirms the deal to sign defender Erazo
13:20Conca travels to Brazil in a separate flight and is close to returning to China
13:15Cruzeiro confirm the deal to sign De Arrascaeta
January 18, 2015
14:34Atlético Mineiro president says transfer fee of Diego Tardelli was higher than what was announced
14:30Fluminense confirm that Conca can leave but the club needs compensation
14:24Conca has an offer from a Chinese team which is believed to be Shanghai Dongya
14:19Corinthians on the verge of completing Edu Dracena's signing
14:11Cruzeiro to complete the transfer of De Arrascaeta
January 17, 2015
20:12Cruzeiro's Dedé requires surgery and will be out for around 8 months
January 19, 2015
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January 11, 2015
19:49Coritiba confirm the signings of Negueba and Pedro Ken
17:17De Arrascaeta to Internacional can be announced any time now, says Defensor president
January 04, 2015
16:03Mircea Lucescu: Tour of Brazil will become part of Shakhtar history
15:08Lucescu: Shakhtar’s Brazil tour will be part of the history
January 03, 2015
12:16Sergei Palkin: It’s important for us to play with the top teams of the Brazilian league
January 02, 2015
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14:16No contacts with Internacional, says Sandro's agent
14:13Shakhtar goes on tour across Brazil
December 30, 2014
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December 25, 2014
14:37Leandro Damião to Cruzeiro is back on
June 26, 2014
14:33Report: Flamengo one of eight clubs who have enquired about loaning Internazionale midfielder Rubén Botta
June 16, 2014
11:35Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backs Portugal to recovery from heavy Germany defeat
June 09, 2014
23:18Italy forward Lorenzo Insigne insists Italy’s poor defending in victory against Fluminense is “not important”
23:12Italy forward Ciro Immobile “excited” with hat-trick against Fluminense
22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
22:52Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli delighted with Brazilian support
June 07, 2014
23:32Italy line up confirmed for Fluminense friendly
May 19, 2014
22:13Portugal Manager Paulo Bento names his 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
May 18, 2014
19:09Sambafoot Sunday: Botafogo's Shaky Start to 2014
April 13, 2014
08:34Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Clubs' Libertadores Numbers Game
April 06, 2014
09:20Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm
February 14, 2014
12:23Shakhtar Donetsk: President decided to support Maicon’s family
February 09, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Where’s Wallyson? Botafogo find their new hero post-Seedorf
January 26, 2014
10:09Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
11:39Brasileirão Week 36 round up: Vasco shock champions to stay in contention while defeat leaves Ponte Preta on the brink
November 24, 2013
10:17Sambafoot Sunday: Palmeiras Promoted with Chapecoense in Tow
November 17, 2013
12:00Palmeiras secure Brasileirão Série B title with 3-0 win against Boa Esporte
November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
12:59Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
November 04, 2013
13:04Brasileirão week 32 round-up: Big win for Vasco as in-form Goiás maintain top four push
November 03, 2013
17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
October 28, 2013
11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
October 21, 2013
13:21Olympique Marseille without defender Lucas Mendes for Napoli fixture
12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
23:50São Paulo president Juvenal Juvêncio admits interest in Lucas Moura loan return
October 18, 2013
11:47Diego Maradona dispute’s Pelé’s FIFA recognition
09:04Del Bosque: Costa approach no insult to current strikers
October 17, 2013
21:43Hard work is paying off insists Bayern Munich defender Rafinha
13:17Rodrigo Lasmar: Ronaldinho on track to be fit for the Club World Cup
October 16, 2013
19:53Report: Tottenham Hotspur set to offer Paulinho extended deal
09:12Report: São Paulo could terminate Lúcio’s contract if injury concerns prevail
October 13, 2013
18:32Brasileirão: Grêmio slip up as Vitoria and Santos grab victories
14:49Vanderlei Luxemburgo: ‘Simulation part of football’
October 09, 2013
20:37Mineiro learn Club World Cup fate
October 06, 2013
22:39Oswaldo de Oliveira in hospital after Botafogo defeat
11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
January 29, 2015
22:30Report: Manchester United midfielder Anderson close to sealing Internacional switch
22:19Report: Schalke 04 defender Felipe Santana set to join Olympiacos
22:09Grêmio forward Júnior Viçosa joins Swiss Challenge League side FC Chiasso on a free transfer
January 28, 2015
20:41New Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista has "huge desire to play in the Premier League"
18:11Pereira could be on way out at Manchester United
17:02Milan and Valencia consider Paulinho bids
16:00Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca denies he is joining Shanghai SIPG for the money
15:51Report: Juventus close in on €11 million deal for Fluminense midfielder Gerson
15:43Grêmio officials deny defender Rhodolfo is set to join Internazionale on loan
January 27, 2015
23:37Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa praises Chelsea manager José Mourinho
21:52Report: Fenerbahçe target Grêmio forward Marcelo Moreno
21:39Cruzeiro agree deal to sign defender Eugenio Mena on a free transfer from Santos
21:29São Paulo loan defender Luis Ricardo to Brasileirão Série B side Botafogo
January 26, 2015
22:32Midfielder Lucas Silva "felt emotional" during Real Madrid unveiling
22:03Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista given work permit to secure Arsenal move
21:55Report: Milan ready to rival Al Ahli Club bid for Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro
21:45Report: Roma to pursue Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano as alternative to Chelsea's Mohamed Salah
January 25, 2015
20:45Report: Queens Park Rangers offered Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
20:40Manager Arsene Wenger confirms Arsenal are set to sign Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
January 24, 2015
22:39Report: Everton latest club linked with Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
22:30Report: Arsenal set to seal €14.7 million deal for Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
January 23, 2015
22:13Report: Manchester United to rival Arsenal bid for Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
22:02Sporting CP announce deal for Anzhi defender Ewerton
21:57Real Madrid sign Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva
January 22, 2015
16:22Arsenal are close to finally signing Gabriel Paulista - Wenger confirmed
January 21, 2015
23:25Report: Manchester United quoted €86 million for Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos
15:46Forward Ryder Matos eager to earn a starting berth at Palmeiras after joining on loan from Fiorentina
15:37Report: Milan tracking Fluminense forward Kenedy
15:34Lazio confirm they have agreed a deal with Sporting CP for defender Maurício
January 20, 2015
15:10Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho hopeful of Wembley appearance
15:00Fluminense Head Coach Cristóvão Borges confirms offer from China for midfielder Darío Conca
January 19, 2015
15:56Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu explains why his team are touring Brazil
15:20Barcelona confirm thigh injury will keep defender Douglas out for "three to four weeks"
15:10Report: Juventus to rival Roma bid for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano
15:00Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista refusing to be distracted by reported Arsenal interest
15:00Report: Midfielder Lucas Leiva open to Liverpool exit amid Atlético de Madrid and Internazionale interest
January 18, 2015
22:59Galatasaray defender Alex Telles denies he has received offers to move elsewhere
January 17, 2015
22:46Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho prefers to praise team despite individual contribution of Diego Costa and Oscar to win over Swansea City
January 16, 2015
22:40Juan Jesus unhappy that with Giorgio Chiellini's handling of 'elbow' altercation
22:31Internazionale defender Juan Jesus explains 'elbow' on Giorgio Chiellini
17:19Report: São Paulo are back in for Darío Conca
January 15, 2015
16:37Report: Sampdoria consider Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato as alternative to Everton's Samuel Eto'o
15:46Ronaldo open to making return to playing with North American Soccer League side Fort Lauderdale Strikers
15:07Veteran defender Betão rejoins Dynamo Kyiv on a free transfer
January 13, 2015
15:12São Paulo have received an offer for Osvaldo from Al-Ahli
13:15Lucas Lima to stay at Santos
12:13Report: Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva once again linked with a move to Napoli
09:38Report: Milan in talks with Atlético de Madrid over possible deal for full-back Guilherme Siqueira
09:29Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson disappointed injury forced him off in the Derby della Capitale
09:28Guangzhou Evergrande confirm deal for Cruzeiro midfielder Ricardo Goulart
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