Brazil managed to avoid the proverbial cat-amongst-the-pigeons in the shape of Cameroon on Monday night and continued the long line of hosts to book a place in the second phase of their own World Cup where they will face the media’s current dark-horse-that-actually-isn’t-one in the shape of Chile.
Neymar is now on top of the scoring charts following the 4-1 demolition of the first African side to be knocked out of the tournament and Fred even managed to bundle one in but should Brazil have let the foot off the gas to try and set up a tie with Holland?
In a word, no. Although Chile look like a tasty proposition through the sumptuous ball play combined with their trademark toughness, the team just doesn’t know when to stick and not continually twist, to borrow some terms from poker. The side plays so high up the pitch when ahead in games it certainly looks as though a team that can get in behind, such as a Brazil led by Neymar, can take advantage.
Looking at the three games so far, Spain was by far the easiest game they had mainly down to the fact that the Iberians resorted to the usual tiki-taka style that has become their trademark for the last three tournament successes. Looking at the goals the Chileans conceded shows two flaws in the side’s back-line:
1) They don’t deal with balls in the air very comfortably, as is illustrated by the goals scored by Leroy Fer and Tim Cahill.
2) The defence is often too far up and this will lead to goals, like the Memphis Depay winner for Holland, or even disciplinary problems from players trying to stop an attack succeeding.
Brazil, meanwhile, have certain problems of their own and chief among them is the ridiculously high expectations of the home fans.
Anyone that has watched A Seleção won’t have missed the amount of emotion present within the ranks and a snippet from the national anthem illustrates this perfectly. Looming even larger than this is the fact Brazilians love to boo everything…even their own team. This was present during the pre-tournament friendlies and you can imagine come the 60 minute mark in Saturday’s game that if the team isn’t performing to the correct standard, the boos will get started and who knows what effect this will have on the team in the tournament proper.
The hosts’ defence, which has looked shaky at times in a poor group, shouldn’t be too much of a problem against Chile given the fact what is at the other end should see the team through. Later on in the tournament is when that can and perhaps will get unstuck.
Betting Instinct tip – Brazil v Chile to see over 3.5 goals is +190 with AllYouBet.ag
Another side with a defence that is entirely questionable is a Dutch team that has won the right to face Group A runner-up Mexico and its excitable manager Miguel Herrera.
Holland are the team that no-one gave a chance in Group B. Louis van Gaal’s side was supposed to succumb to the mercurial talents of both Spain and Chile before departing in a rage. That was before they smashed that plan to pieces by battering Spain and became the first side to finish the group stage on the maximum nine points.
Dutch fans should be worried about facing an unfancied Mexican side that failed to light up qualifying but has really found its feet under Herrera in the World Cup. The kind of speed and quickness on the break that has been exhibited by the central American side is something that will trouble the Dutch defence in the same way that Arjen Robben will do at the other end.
You feel that this one could well come down to the team that scores the most goals or the goalkeeper performs best, which at the moment hints at Mexico possibly stealing a path to the next round.
Betting Instinct tip – Mexico to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Quarter Final is 2.60 with Intertops.eu
JAMIE HINKS (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him on Twitter here and on Google+ here.