By DANIEL KARELL
After the first day off at the 2014 World Cup, the tournament’s action returns in the Round of 16 with a bang.
Fans will be treated to two monumental clashes between South American nations, beginning with Brazil facing Chile (12 p.m. ABC) and Uruguay taking on Colombia (4 p.m. ABC). Prior to the World Cup beginning, Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said that the one team he hoped to avoid in the quarterfinals was Chile, and lo and behold, the high-flying Chileans finished in second place ahead of Spain in Group B.
Brazil have yet to put together a complete, 90-minute performance, at the World Cup but forward star Neymar has stepped up for his team while Manchester City midfield engine Fernandinho has suddenly thrust himself into a potential starting role against La Roja.
The beauty of Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile side is that they only know how to play one way, and that’s all out attack. They played with three centerbacks in their last two games against Spain and the Netherlands, and two of those defenders play as central midfielders for their club sides.
Put together with the speedy and talented Alexis Sanchez, powerful Arturo Vidal, and clinical finisher Eduardo Vargas, and Chile could upset the hosts and end their World Cup much earlier than anticipated.
Here’s a look at the other match in today’s World Cup slate:
COLOMBIA vs. URUGUAY
In the wake of Luis Suarez’s nine-match FIFA suspension for biting, both Uruguay and Colombia enter the Round of 16 without their best forward option.
However, while Uruguay struggled in their first match without a fit Suarez available, Colombia have overcome their loss of Radamel Falcao Garcia by winning all three group games and playing a beautiful, free-flowing attacking style of soccer. Midfielder James Rodriguez has been one of the young stars in the tournament and wingers Juan Cuadrado and Victor Ibarbo have provided plenty of pace down the wings, with the full backs overlapping as well.
Unlike the stereotypical South American style, Uruguay play a harder, more physical style, with an intent to get into their opponents head. Players like Diego Godin, the dominating centerback, the feisty Arevalo Rios, and youngster Jose Maria Gimenez have only conceded twice in the last two games, and with players such as Edinson Cavani and former World Cup Golden Boot winner Diego Forlan up top, Uruguay always have a chance to make the most of a moment or two in every game.
Uruguay are uber motivated heading into the this match and will rally around Suarez to give them an emotional boost.
What do you think of today’s slate? Do you see Chile providing the World Cup’s latest upset? Can Neymar lead Brazil past their South American rivals? Do you expect Uruguay to rally around Suarez?
Share your thoughts below.