South America’s dominance in the early phase of the 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 today’s match in 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 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.
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 a 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.’’
The early game today has the Netherlands against Slovakia in 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.
The game, which began at 2:30 p.m. EDT on ABC, received an 8.2 fast national rating. It was seen in 9,455,000 households and by 14,863,000 viewers. Only the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, featuring the United States and China at the Rose Bowl, averaged more households (11,307,000) and viewers (17,975,000) for a soccer game.
The US-Ghana game was also the third highest-rated men’s Cup game on record in the US, behind the 1994 final between Italy and Brazil (9.5 rating) and the Round of 16 game that year between the United States and Brazil (9.3 rating). The 1999 Women’s World Cup final delivered an 11.4 rating.