Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium will be the backdrop for the friendly between rival South American superpowers Brazil and Chile on Sunday.
On the evidence of its showing in Thursday’s 3-1 friendly win over France, it seems that confidence has been restored to this Brazilian side. While France took an early lead through Raphael Varane, Brazil were able to equalize before the end of the first half through Oscar. By the time Neymar put Brazil ahead 15 minutes into the second half, that 7-1 loss to Germany at the Maracana last summer was beginning to seem like a long time ago; when Luis Gustavo popped up with a third a few minutes later, France no longer looked like they believed themselves capable of getting back into the match.
It wasn’t what you’d call a vintage Brazil performance, but it’s clear that Dunga has helped this team put its World Cup hangover behind it. Neymar in particular turned in one of the best performances we’ve seen from him this year. While his Barcelona performances are often criticized for being ornate but lacking end product, with Brazil the playmaker’s movement was as purposeful as it was entertaining to watch. His goal, scored on the move from an improbable angle, was one only a few players in the world could’ve been capable of. The victory at the Stade de France outside of Paris was Brazil’s seventh consecutive friendly win since the World Cup and the Seleçao look to be revitalized, just in time for this summer’s Copa America.
Brazil’s opponents for Sunday’s friendly in London on the other hand, will go into the match still reeling from a shock 2-0 loss to Iran at the NV Arena in Austria on Thursday. Although star players Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal started on the bench, Chile dominated the early stages of the match but was unable to get anything to show for it. Iran eventually took the lead through captain Javad Nekounam, who was left unmarked on an otherwise simple set piece. Vahid Amiri doubled Iran’s lead five minutes into the second half with a swift and efficient counterattack.
Chile enjoyed 74 percent possession in the match but was unable to muster much of an attacking threat. Even with the introduction of Sanchez at halftime, Jorge Sampaoli’s side was unable to find a way through. Although Sanchez did provide Chile with its best chance in the second half when he used his chest to control the ball before volleying a shot just over the bar. It was a surprisingly flat performance from the team that will host this summer’s Copa America and is considered among the favorites to win it.
This was the second loss in three matches for Sampaoli’s side. Chile will need to get its act together quickly if it is to avoid being blown out by Brazil on Sunday. The likes of Sanchez and Vidal should be restored to the starting lineup along with David Pizarro.
Dunga meanwhile, is expected to hand Gabriel Paulista and Fabinho their senior national team debuts. There is also some speculation that the coach, who is in his second stint with the Seleçao, may start Neymar on the bench with Robinho or Douglas Costa taking the Barça man’s place in the starting lineup. The last time the two South American super powers met was in June at the World Cup. That match ended 1-1 with Brazil ultimately winning on penalties.