By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil stormed through to the quarter finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over fellow South Americans Chile to set up a mouth-watering tie against the Netherlands, who defeated Slovakia 2-0 earlier in the day. Brazil’s brilliant performance was in stark contrast to their final group game last Friday, a dismal 0-0 draw with Portugal, and left the country confident of a tournament win once more.
Defender Juan opened the scoring powerfully heading home from a corner, before Kaká, restored to the starting line up after serving a one game ban, fed Luis Fabiano an exquisite through ball for the second. Robinho made sure of Brazil’s progress in the second half with a well-taken curling effort from the edge of the area.
Chile’s dismal record against Brazil continues, and the seleção did not need to be at their best to beat Marcelo Bielsa’s men. The coach had steered his side through a tough group that also contained favorites Spain and Switzerland, who in fact defeated the fancied Europeans in their opening game. Bielsa turned the Chileans into a cohesive attacking unit, with winger Alexis Sanchez acting as chief chance creator in a side of limited talent.
Their unorthodox 3-3-1-3 formation, which brought results against sides far superior to their own, did not manage to reap dividends against Dunga’s well-oiled Brazilian machine. Apart from a brief ten-minute spell at the start of the game, the Chileans barely looked like equal competition for their fellow South Americans.
Brazil left back Michel Bastos, was given the time and space to push forward in support of attacks at will, and Robinho and Kaká supported front man Luis Fabiano without any protest from a previously resolute Chile defense.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s path to World Cup glory has been helped significantly as other strong contenders continue to fall. While France and Italy crashed out at the group stage, Fabio Capello’s much fancied England were humbled 4-1 by a German side brimming with confidence. England were woeful for the first 35 minutes, finding themselves 2-0 down before pulling a goal back through defender Matthew Upson. Frank Lampard then had a goal wrongfully disallowed, the linesman ruling his long range effort had not crossed the goal line when television replays clearly proved otherwise. But the Germans dominated the second half from start to finish and ran out easy winners.
Other teams through to the quarter final stage are Uruguay, Paraguay, Spain and Ghana, as well as Germany and Diego Maradona’s ever-improving Argentina, who brushed aside Mexico 3-1. Carlos Tevez scored two and Gonzalo Higuain the other in a dynamic display which suggested Brazil’s greatest rivals may just have what it takes to reach the final on July 11th.
This World Cup has proved slow in bringing excitement and entertainment to the viewing millions, but it is finally turning into an intriguing spectacle. Brazil’s next challenge will be their toughest by far to date. Dunga will be in for some sleepless nights before the curtain raises on what should be a fantastic advert for tournament football, when Brazil and Holland meet on Friday in Port Elizabeth.