The Selecao took another step closer to a second successive Copa America title after the 1-0 success.
Brazil, after a period of misery post the 2014 World Cup, have reinvented themselves as South American giants yet again. The Copa America 2019 triumph and a table-topping performance in the group stages this year, are testament to the side’s improvement under Tite. Facing their most difficult opponents so far in this tournament, Brazil defeated Chile to move one step closer to retaining the title.
Lucas Paqueta, Brazil’s breakout star in this tournament, scored the winning goal as they beat Chile 1-0. Despite going down to 10 men in the 48th minute, the hosts held on to see off the game.
Brazil will now face Peru, who knocked out Paraguay in sudden death after a 3-3 draw in regulation time. Here are five highlights from the Brazil Vs Chile clash:
5. Alexis Sanchez and Chile’s core
After missing out on the group stage matches due to an ankle injury, Alexis Sanchez started for Chile. With Sanchez’s return, the Chilean core was complete. Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas, Charles Aranguiz, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo and Gary Medel – players from their double Copa America wins were in the starting lineup.
Coming into the knockout rounds with less than convincing performances, the difference was apparent. With Sanchez, the Chilean attack looked more functional. They maintained possession and had enough to launch quick counter-attacks. Without the winger, Chile had failed to retain enough possession during the group stage. But, the issue looked to have been resolved with his return.
4. Tite’s approach in the final third
The return of Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison, and Neymar in the lineup opened avenues for Brazil to create more link-ups upfront. Neymar and Richarlison combined well with Roberto Firmino and Jesus and interchanged quick passes between themselves.
As a result, Brazil created two fine chances in the first half. Against a five-man defence, the forward line moved with short passes, drawing players out and creating spaces in the process. The movement was relatively smooth as compared to their previous performances. But, Jesus’ sending off in the 48th minute somewhat killed the team’s attacking intent.
3. Eduardo Vargas’ runs and Chile’s intent
Chile rested Ben Brereton after Sanchez became available for this game. The 32-year-old paired up with Vargas upfront. But, with the Inter Milan man often dropping deep to link with the midfield, Vargas was left as the sole target man.
The striker played on the shoulders of the Brazilian centre-backs and constantly tried to make runs in behind them. Cutting inside from the right side, Vargas’ runs were typically directed to pin Renan Lodi inside. At the same time, he also tried to exploit the space between Thiago Silva and Lodi to run behind the defence. His dribbling prowess came handy and Chile made some promising moves with this intent.
2. Gabriel Jesus’ red card
For many, Gabriel Jesus’ sending off shortly after half-time could have been the key moment of the match. The Manchester City forward saw a straight red after catching an opposition player on the face in the 48th minute – just two minutes after Brazil took the lead.
Despite playing majority of the second half with 10 men, Brazil were comfortable in both attack and defence. Despite allowing more shots and having 41% possession, Tite’s men did not concede and saw out the match.
1. Over-dependence on Neymar?
This year’s Copa America has been a superb one for two superstars – Lionel Messi and Neymar. Both have been the talisman for their respective nations. Neymar was rested in Brazil’s last group game against Ecuador and his absence was felt. Tite’s side were rusty and failed to create enough from open play. Both teams eventually settled for a 1-1 draw.
However, against a more superior opposition, Brazil looked noticeably better with Neymar in the side. Almost everything, from through balls to key passes, went through the 29-year-old. Richarlison’s operating from the left also looked better, as Neymar played in an advanced position. The PSG forward was also involved in Paqueta’s goal.
Neymar having a good day will always be a plus for Brazil and for the time being, he looks unstoppable. But, that leaves the team over-dependent on him. Opposition side will look to stop Neymar to limit Brazil’s attacking threat.