Get ready for samba

Chile vs Brazil, Colombia vs Uruguay kick off knockout phase
Last Updated 27 June 2014, 20:22 IST

The pre-quarterfinal stage of the World Cup begins on Saturday and there is no better opener than Brazil against Chile to kickstart the second stage of the tournament.

Brazil, who have not lost a competitive match in their homeland since 1975, against the high intensity game of Chile, is certain to generate sparks, lighting up an entertaining tournament.

The likes of Brazilian Neymar and Chilean Alexis Sanchez – who have already left their imprints on this edition — will once again be the lynchpins for the respective sides.

Having already dispatched Spain in one of the group games, Chile will be more than a handful for the hosts and they will be in for a tough ride.

In a rather interesting theme, the other match on Saturday is also another all South American affair with Colombia taking on a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay.

Edinson Cavani will be crucial for Oscar Tabarez’s men in Suarez’s absence but the Colombians, vying to reach the last eight for the first time in their history, will start as favourites.

Colombia, like most of the Latin American nations taking part, have been a breath of fresh air at the finals.

Having endured a 12-year World Cup drought this edition represents a glorious opportunity for them to leave an indelible imprint.

As is apparent, South and Central America are well represented in the round of 16 – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico — and at least two of them will fancy their chances of going all the way to the Maracana on July 13. The United States, part of the Central American confederation, makes it a formidable figure.

Africa – who have been perennial bridesmaids on the world stage – have put two teams in the pre-quarterfinals for the first time in Nigeria and Algeria.

Europe have six teams (France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Greece) but they are against history and a jinx – no European nation has ever won the World Cup in South America.

(Published 27 June 2014, 20:22 IST)

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