Wary Brazil face Chile
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP):The knockout stage of the World Cup begins today with hosts Brazil playing Chile, the South American rivals they have dominated over the years.
Brazil have not lost to Chile in more than a decade, and have never lost a head-to-head game on home soil. But, for the first time, Chile arrive to face their neighbours with plenty of confidence, thanks in part to a convincing campaign in Group B that included a victory over 2010 World Cup champion Spain.
The Chileans say there is no reason they can't also surprise the hosts, and Brazilians admit they are wary of the threat.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari warned about Chile's potential more than six months ago, following the World Cup draw. Despite the possibility of the hosts facing Spain or the Netherlands, Brazil's nemesis in the quarter-finals of the 2010 tournament, Scolari said, at the time, that his biggest concern was the Chilean squad, which he hoped "wouldn't qualify" for the second round.
Brazil have not lost to Chile since a World Cup qualifier in 2000. Since then, they have won 10 of their 12 matches. The teams have met three times in World Cups, with Brazil winning 4-2 in the semi-finals of the 1962 tournament in Chile, then 4-1 in the second round in 1998 and 3-0 at the same stage in 2010.
"We can't take that into consideration," Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said. "A lot of people say that we don't have anything to lose, but on the contrary, we have a historic opportunity to eliminate the hosts. It's our long-time rival, one with a lot of titles. It's up to us to do it."
Brazil and Chile played twice in friendlies last year. Scolari's team won 2-1 in November in Canada, and the teams drew 2-2 in April at the same Mineirao Stadium where today's match will be played.
Chileans know Brazil
The Chilean squad has four players who know Brazilian football well - Eduardo Vargas played for Brazilian club Gremio until last year, while Jorge Valdivia is with Palmeiras, Charles Aranguiz with Internacional and Eugenio Mena with Santos.
Brazil have made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup every time since 1994. Their last elimination in the second round was against Argentina in 1990. Chile has only once advanced past the second round, at home in 1962.
Brazil have four players going into today's match with a yellow card, including striker Neymar, captain Thiago Silva and Gustavo. Another yellow card against Chile will sideline them from the quarter-finals if Brazil advances.