Brazil has dominated Chile for a decade; now they meet in World Cup second round

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Brazil-Chile not always fair fight

JOHANNESBURG — South America’s dominance in the early phase of this World Cup has led to a second-round showdown between Brazil and Chile.

All five teams from the continent advanced from the group stage, and when the Chileans lost to Spain in the Group H finale, it set up Monday’s matchup (2:30 p.m. at Johannesburg). It’s not the greatest prospect for Chile.

Brazil hasn’t lost to Chile in 10 years, since a 3-0 result in a 2000 qualifier for the 2002 World Cup. It has won the past seven, outscoring Chile 26-3. In 10 matches this decade, Brazil won eight, drew one and lost only the qualifier in 2000.

The teams have met twice in World Cups and Brazil won both: 4-1 in the second round in 1998 and 4-2 in a semifinal at the 1962 tournament in Chile. Brazil also won both qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup: 3-0 in Chile in 2008 and 4-2 in Brazil last year.

But despite the unfavorable numbers, the Chileans say they will not relinquish their attacking style at Ellis Park.

“I expect an open match,” midfielder Jean Beausejour said. “It’s likely that we won’t change a millimeter from what we have been doing, regardless of our rival. And with their history and tradition, (Brazil) will also try to attack.”

Added midfielder Arturo Vidal: “Chile will respect Brazil, but we will play our own game. We will pressure and attack from all sides.”

If there is an intimidation factor for this game, the Brazilians refuse to recognize it. They know Chile nearly won South American qualifying, finishing one point behind Brazil.

“Now we get to the stage where the 90 minutes will be decisive, mistakes are not allowed or you will be going home,” Brazil coach Dunga said. “Chile has been improving, it has a team with good players and will fight very hard to keep advancing.”

Five-time champion Brazil should get back midfielder Elano, who missed the 0-0 draw with Portugal because of a right ankle injury. Playmaker Kaka was sidelined for that match because of a suspension and will return, as will striker Robinho, who was rested in the final group-stage match.

But midfielders Felipe Melo (left ankle) and Julio Baptista (left knee) aren’t likely to play.

Chile will be undermanned. Central defenders Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce will not play after receiving their second yellow cards in the loss to Spain. Midfielder Marco Estrada was ejected from that game and is out Monday.

The early game Monday has the Netherlands against Slovakia (10 a.m. at Durban).

The Dutch won all three games in Group E, but never looked spectacular. A healthy Arjen Robben might change that. Robben is back from a left hamstring injury and joins Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt in a formidable offense that should be more productive. If it is, the Dutch will be dangerous.

“If we are as concentrated as during the first two games and look for space with direct moves, then we are at our best,” coach Bert van Marwijk said. “Then we have patience, we have speed, we can score.”

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss said his team would play with the same spirit against the Netherlands as it did in stunning Italy, knocking the defending champion out of the tournament and advancing itself.

“They are the favorites, but you never know,” Weiss said. “They have attacking players like (Wesley) Sneijder and Van der Vaart. It’s not easy to play against these guys. They won all their matches at the group stage. They are a fantastic team with fantastic players.

The Netherlands is in its ninth World Cup and was runner-up in 1974 and ‘78. Slovakia is in its first World Cup as an independent nation.

“We came here as newcomers and outsiders,” said Robert Vittek, whose two goals led the upset of Italy. “But we have already surprised once and we want to do it again. We really have moved the limits of Slovak football somewhere else.”

will not be displayed