Football

Chile; We are going to beat Brazil

Sampaoli's men are convinced they can upset the hosts

ROUND OF 16

BRAZIL v CHILE

(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV 
Ch 223)

Eliminated three times by Brazil in past World Cups, Chile will take a fearless and fighting approach in tonight's last-16 clash against the hosts and favourites.

Despite the combative talk, La Roja are sweating on the fitness of two key players - defender Gary Medel, known as The Pitbull, and midfielder Arturo Vidal, nicknamed King Arthur - for the showdown at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao Stadium.

Brazil, whose fans are expecting nothing less than a sixth World Cup, knocked out Chile with relative ease at the same stage in their last two appearances in 2010 and 1998.

They also broke Chilean hearts in 1962, beating them in the semi-finals when La Roja were hosting the tournament.

"It's not by chance that Brazil won those matches. They've won the World Cup five times. Statistically, they're the best team in the world," said Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.

"But we have a chance to change history. We will play with courage as we did in the qualifiers and the group.

"If we don't fight against a team that have the whole stadium and the whole nation behind them, then the result will be quite clear."

Chile's 2-0 defeat of reigning champions Spain sent shockwaves around the world and confirmed the strength of the South Americans' aggressive and pacy team.

"Chile have improved and developed a lot. Nowadays we play without fear. Chile will play to win. We don't want to be forgotten. Brazil already have a beautiful history; we want to make a history of our own," he said.

The Argentine coach admitted Medel would not have played if the match had been yesterday due to a muscle injury in his left leg, but held out hope the defender might recover in time for tonight's kick-off.

"Today he wouldn't play, tomorrow maybe. Let's see if the next 24 hours allow him to play. Like Arturo, he's not 100 per cent," Sampaoli said.

Vidal is still suffering the effects of recent knee surgery, but Sampaoli said: "Towards the end of the season with Juventus, he played in the Europa League when he was only 30 per cent fit.

"Today he is still nowhere near 100 per cent, but we all agree that he has to play."

One of the few advantages Chile have is that their training base is just a few miles from the Mineirao Stadium, so although the atmosphere will be hostile tonight, the city at least has felt like home over the past two weeks.

SUFFOCATE

Chile do not plan to man-mark Neymar, but will seek to suffocate Brazil's leading man at every turn, the coach said.

At the other end, they are relying on Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez to do the damage.

Sampaoli explained why Sanchez plays better for Chile than he does for the Spanish club.

"Alexis feels very comfortable with the national team," said Sampaoli.

"He knows he's highly appreciated by his colleagues. So that's why he's playing so well. In his club, maybe his teammates don't appreciate him so much.

"He's got enough assets to be one of the best players in the world."

Defender Eugenio Mena echoed his boss' confidence, saying Chile's performances in beating both Chile and Australia at the group stage had won them respect around the world.

"It's the most important match in my career. It's a beautiful opportunity for us to change history for our national team," he said.

"Our team are very motivated. We're convinced we can win." - Reuters.

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