Saturday 28th June, Belo Horizonte
Match odds: Brazil @1/2, Draw @7/2, Chile @11/2
Hosts Brazil take on fellow South Americans Chile in a game that should command an immense atmosphere, with fantastic support for both sides so far. Brazil go in @1/2 favourites, after a relatively comfortable group performance. However, Chile will fancy their chances after overcoming Spain in their group and showing they can be a real force in the tournament. The hosts struggled against Mexico, and Chile may offer a similar threat. They will work extremely hard to press and close off the threat of the opposition runners and space in midfield, trying to stop Brazil’s transition between midfield and attack. Vidal will play, and will be crucial in the centre of the pitch – he will look to get forward and cover off space in the middle third – his quality is a necessity for his side to have a good chance here. In contrast, Fernandinho will probably replace Paulinho and attempt to do the same thing – holding the midfield alongside Luiz Gustavo, but pushing forward where possible.
Its difficult to see both sides keeping a clean sheet here. Brazil’s attack is threatening and they have the individual talent of Neymar, on 4 goals already, who can cut in and score at any time. However, their defence hasn’t been the best in the tournament so far and Chile will look to exploit them on the break and use Sanchez and Vargas to trouble Scolari and think about how to adapt in certain defensive situations. Chile will not change their attacking style. They have the potential to get caught out hugely on the counter-attack, where their wing-backs go wandering up the pitch meaning that the key match-up will possibly be Neymar and Marcelo vs Isla and whoever else occupies the space on the right to ‘help’ him. This is a worry for Sampaoli because he has said he ‘Doesn’t want to follow Neymar where ever he goes’, but does ‘respect him deeply’. However it doesn’t look like he will do to much to change their shape or protect that side of the pitch. Neymar to score first @3/1 seems like a solid bet, although the lack of height in the La Roja defence could point towards aerial opportunities for Fred. Fred to score a header anytime is @5/1 on SkyBet.
Taking into account Brazil’s unspectacular defensive performance so far, and the fact that Mexico will throw the kitchen sink at them if they need a goal (its a knockout game after all), it seems likely that both teams will score. I’d fancy going for Brazil to win and over 2.5 goals @11/10. Not only does this cover the possibility that Brazil will go through the gears and play Chile of the park here, but also both teams scoring. However, due to Chile’s apparent resilience and strength in the tournament so far, they could well make it to extra-time. I think if they do, Brazil will still be strong favourites with the home crowd behind them and the individual talent they have, thus I think Brazil to win in extra-time @17/2 could be a good outside bet, or Draw/Brazil in ht/ft @7/2.