Saturday, June 28, 2014

Brazil Hopes that History would Repeat itself in Belo Horizonte

As the Round of 16 of FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks off at Belo Horizonte, Chile will be facing a tall order to overcome a Brazilian side growing in confidence. In 26 previous clashes in Brazil over the past 95 years, La Roja has never defeated the Selecao. However, with a challenging team at the World Cup this year, they hope to change that record.

Brazil had their moments of despair at the World Cup, especially when the Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa decided to play his magic on the Brazilian side. Despite the draw, Brazil was by far the best attacking team. Their attacking flare took them past both Croatia and Cameroon with relative ease.

Chile on the other hand has played good attacking football in Brazil 2014 tournament. They shocked the defending champions Spain by sending them out of the World Cup after a memorable 2-0 victory. Before that, they had defeated a spirited Australian side in their opening game. However, the defeat at the hands of the Dutch will be in the back of their minds.

Attacking football has been the norm of the tournament in the preliminary round. The Brazil versus Chile encounter will be of not much of a difference.

Past encounters at FIFA World Cup

Brazil and Chile have met three times in earlier editions of FIFA World Cup. The first instance is perhaps the best known game, when Chile hosted the World Cup. The country, rebuilding after a massive earthquake several years ago, surprised almost all football fans by reaching the Semifinal stage. In the quarterfinals, they had beaten the powerful Soviet team. This result surprised even the Chileans.

The original venue of the first semifinal was to be Viña del Mar. However, the Chilean football authorities asked FIFA to interchange the venues of the two semifinals so that Chile could play in front of a larger crowd at Santiago. This angered the Viña del Mar inhabitants and only 6000 people turned up to see Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia meeting for that match. However, a capacity crowd of over 76,000 turned up to see La Rojas play the Brazilians.

The game was only 9 minutes old when Garrincha scored the first goal by a powerful left footer. He added a second in the 32nd minute off a corner. Jorge Toro managed to reduce the advantage in the 42 nd minute through a well aimed free kick and the first half ended at 2-1 Brazil.

In the second half, Vava took up from where Garrincha had left off by restoring the 2 goal advantage just 2 minutes in the second half. Leonel Sanchez scored a penalty to once again reduce the margin but Vava again restored the 2 goal advantage in the 78th minute. In the latter stages the game went nowhere with two players, including the Brazilian star player Garrincha being sent off.

Chile ultimately won the third place of the tournament, their best performance ever at a FIFA World Cup. Brazil won their 2nd consecutive title and carried off the Jules Rimet trophy back home.

The next encounter between the two teams was in the Round of 16 in France, 1998. However, this game in Paris was a one sided clash ending in a 4-1 victory for the Selecao.

In 2010, when they met in Johannesburg, it was once again a Round of 16 Match. This was played on June 28, 2010, exactly four years before the 2014 match. Similar to the 1998 encounter, this match was also won by Brazil with a 3 goal advantage. Brazil scored 3 goals as Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho scored. Chile did not trouble the scorers.

The history of the clashes between La Roja and the Selecao does not bode well for the Chileans. The Brazilians will also enjoy the home advantage. It will undoubtedly be a packed crowd at Belo Horizonte. Whether they will be witness to history is still unknown. But the match is almost certain to be a thriller.

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