Brazil survive Chile in penalties

Published Sunday, June 29, 2014 4:59 AM by Patrick Nuss
Brazil survive Chile in penalties

The first Round of 16 match of the 2014 World Cup looked promising. The hosts, Brazil, were taking on fellow South American side, Chile. Both sides have proven to have potent attacks, and have shown to be shaky in the back. From a neutral perspective, it was perfect.
                
Brazil has been, shall we say, not quite reaching the high expectations held for them by the Brazilian public. Neymar has been in fantastic form, thoroughly carrying his country through the group stage, but the rest of the side has seemed to be a bit lackluster. They have a serious issue at striker, where neither Fred nor Jo has bothered to show up. That being said, they have world-class talent, and have the capability to strike from anywhere, with Dani Alves and Marcelo being two of the most deadly outside-backs in the world.
                
Chile, on the other hand, has been impressive, being led by Barcelona winger, Alexis Sanchez. They were narrowly defeated by the Netherlands after a hotly contested match, but beat the lowly Australia and world-class Spain, prior to that meeting with Holland. A big question mark coming into this game was the health of stud centermid, referred to by some as the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, Arturo Vidal. He had knee surgery a month prior to the tournament, and was visibly limited by it during the first two games, but the hope was that resting it the entire third game would help him recover. His performance today would be a major factor in whether Chile would advance.
                
Brazil came out in a 4-3-3, Chile in a 3-5-2. The big change for today was Spurs midfielder, Paulinho, being dropped for Fernandinho, who has been in much better form, as the Spurs man has struggled to find his feet in this tournament.
                
The first half was fast and furious. Men were being fouled left and right, and the players, most of whom openly have second jobs as actors, were taking every opportunity to fall like a sack of potatoes, throwing in a spin or two for show.
                
The first real chance came from a 25 yard strike from Marcelo. It was a good attempt after he did well to beat the first man, but he could not get it to bend enough to worry the keeper. Wide, but it signaled Brazil’s intentions for the match.
                
Brazil pressed excellently all half, constantly forcing Chile to play the ball backwards. This pressure led to a giveaway by the Chileans, and saw Hulk receive the ball and drive into the box after a good 1-2 with Neymar. Isla came in from behind to try and tap the ball away, but Hulk went down way too easily. It was a clumsy challenge, but little to no contact was made… Good no call in my opinion.

Then, the moment the crowd had been waiting for- GOAL! Neymar whipped in a corner in the 18th minute, which was flicked on by Thiago Silva at the near post. The ball arrived to David Luiz at the back post, where it seemed to hit his marker, but come off Luiz’s chest last, thus giving Luiz his first goal in 40 caps for Brazil. 1-0 to the yellow shirts!
                
Neymar had two or three brilliant chances created by himself, but every time either scuffed his shot or failed to get one off. Good play, but wasted opportunities in the end.
                
All of sudden, 14 minutes after Brazil took the lead, disaster struck for the home country. Marcelo threw the ball in deep in their defensive third to Hulk, who should have had no trouble in touching the ball back to Marcelo. However, Hulk’s pass was too soft, and intercepted easily by Vargas. He cut the ball back superbly to Alexis Sanchez, who was about 16 yards out. The Barca man then took a touch, and side-footed the ball past the diving Julio Cesar, who maybe should have done better. 1-1!
                
The rest of the half held chances for both sides. A Neymar header was deflected and went inches wide of the goal. After that, Aranguiz for Chile got on the ball in the Brazil box, but his goal bound shot was blocked by David Luiz. And then the half ended, 1 all. Very entertaining.
                
The second half was a lot less exciting. Both sides slowed the game down, and not many chances were created until the 55th minute, where Hulk seemed to have scored. A brilliant long ball was latched onto by Hulk about 10 yards out, and was cheekily scuffed into the bottom left corner by the winger (Did he do it on purpose?). The stadium erupted, but Howard Webb had other ideas. He blew his whistle and handed Hulk a yellow for a hand ball… NO GOAL. Webb ruled that Hulk, when bringing the initial ball down with his chest, used his arm to help. This was a huge call, and obviously unpopular in the Mineirao, but replays showed that he might have been correct.
                
The rest of the half was very lackluster from Brazil. The crowd was visibly frustrated by their team’s lack of stylish play and goals and voiced their complaints to the players, and this obviously got to them. They began to try to do too much, and constantly found themselves giving the ball away to the Chileans. Suddenly, after a very good first half, Brazil looked as if they were going to have to hold down the fort with all hands on deck if they were going to have any chance at winning the game. That is, until the last 15 minutes.
                
After great buildup play by Chile that resulted in Julio Cesar turning away a good strike, Brazil began to find their rhythm again. Hulk sent in a deadly cross across the 6 yard box, and although it was tapped by Mena, Jo still had the simplest of tasks in tapping it into the net. Instead, he completely missed the ball, and thereby, the chance.
                
After that, it was Hulk again. He did splendidly to beat 2 defenders and burst into the area, but his effort at goal was turned aside by Bravo, the recent Barcelona signing. Then referee Howard Webb signaled the end of the 90 minutes. Extra time!
                
The first half of extra time was tame, except for Hulk, who really was behind every one of Brazil’s chances. He beat his man to send in a good cross to Oscar, but the resulting header was an easy catch for Bravo. After that, he showed why teams fear his deadly shot so much, as he launched a missile from 30 yards, but the effort was again turned aside by Bravo.
                
That was the first half of extra time, and after a brief stoppage, the second half began. 14 minutes of it looked like it was destined for penalties, as the players were obviously tired and began to go down more and more. It looked as if the players had accepted their fate, as well, until a stupendous chance by Chile in the dying moments.
                
Alexis Sanchez won the ball and wriggled away from his markers, and then slipped a cheeky pass across the top of the Brazilian box. Pinilla ran onto the ball, took a touch, and then let an unstoppable shot fly at goal. All Julio Cesar could do was watch as the ball whistled by and… PINGED OFF THE CROSSBAR! So unlucky for the Chileans, who surely thought they had just won the match. And that was it, stoppage was up, and the match would be decided by penalties.
                
It was all tied up, 2-2 in penalties, and up stepped the man, Neymar, in the 5th spot. He lined up, stuttered a bit (as he always does in his run ups), and calmly slotted home the ball. Now all the pressure was on Jara. If he makes it, more shooters would be called upon, if he missed, Chile would be watching the rest of the tournament on their flat screens. He stepped up and went for power, and cannoned it off the right post. Everyone in the stadium held their breath as the ball rolled across the face of goal, but to no avail, the goal line technology confirmed that it stayed out. And that was that. Brazil advance, Chile are sent home in tears after losing 1 (2) – 1 (3).
                
This game showed what many thought would be the Brazilians’ weakness, and that is that there is too much pressure on them. After a dominant first half, a period of boring play led to displeasure from the crowd, which made Brazil panic and play very poorly. That being said, though, a win is a win, and if Neymar and Hulk can play like they did the rest of the tournament, but put 1 or 2 in the back of the net, the side is still a frontrunner to take home the coveted trophy.