Today sees the start of the knockout stages in Brazil as the hosts face Chile whilst Colombia takes on Uruguay in a South American football fiesta!
Belo Horizonte plays to the first game of the day as Brazil’s reward for topping their group is a match against an impressive Chile side. The hosts finally cranked up to top gear last time out as they cruised past Cameroon, with Neymar once again stealing the show. For all the histrionics that can sometimes put a cloud over his name the Barcelona star has shown the world the quality that he possesses. Chile, though, will be an entirely different kettle of fish; their high pressing game will leave Brazil with little time on the ball, so keeping composure will be the key to success. Players like Hulk and Fred, who haven’t truly excelled as of yet, will need to raise their game if they are to break down the Chilean defence.
The Netherlands proved Chile are beatable with a comprehensive 2-0 victory in their final group game, but Jorge Sampaoli and his men will be itching to set the record straight, and what better opposition to do it against than their South American rivals. The middle of the park will be a crucial battle for the two teams, with the victor likely to progress to the quarter finals. Arturo Vidal is likely to return after being rested against the Netherlands whilst Fernandinho may replace Paulinho for Brazil. The more rugged approach from Chile will stop Brazil playing the flowing football they would like; the partisan home crowd will be watching in anticipation and a slow start could see them become restless.
This could be a tight affair with both teams not wanting to give anything away. It could be the only goal of the game that wins it for either side, but the hosts will need to keep their cool if they make a slow start. Once again the weight could be on Neymar’s shoulders, but he is no stranger to that these days.
The South American themed day carries on as Colombia take on Uruguay in what is sure to be a pulsating affair in Rio de Janeiro.
Uruguay will not be the same team without Luis Suarez; if their first match against Costa Rica without their main man is anything to go by. Diego Forlan is not the player he was in South Africa four years ago, whilst Edinson Cavani needs a partner in crime to be more effective, so scoring goals will be their issue. Much talk was made of Uruguay’s defence in the build up to their match with England and how shaky they looked; they have soon proved their doubters wrong with strong performances against Roy’s boys and Italy to see them progress in the group.
Colombia, meanwhile, have looked the most consistent side in the tournament so far, with no major scares in any of their three group games. James Rodriguez has been in impeccable form so far, both in goal scoring and assisting his teammates, and with the support of Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez, the Colombians prove a deadly force when going forward. As of yet, Jose Pekerman’s side have not been tested too much at the back, but Uruguay will be hoping to see what they are made of later tonight.
Today will be crazy in the stands at both matches, the South Americans know how to create an atmosphere and for such intense games as these the volume will be turned up to 11. A win for Chile in the earlier game could leave the competition feeling a little flat; as the loss of the home nation generally does, but South America are proving themselves as a force of world football once again after eight years of European domination, and today will go some way as to proving why.
Picture: Daily Mail