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Baltimore Sports Blitz

South American showdowns highlight first day of World Cup Round of 16

The Baltimore Sun

Yesterday in one sentence: There were no matches and it was much sadder than I thought it would be; I survived.

What’s on tap: Brazil vs. Chile, 12 p.m., ABC; Colombia vs. Uruguay, 4 p.m., ABC

What you’ll see: The knockout rounds are typically better than the group stage, which is kind of unfathomable considering how much fun the groups were. The first day features four of the five South American teams, which is only sad considering they will be knocking themselves out and weaken the tournament in that sense.

Brazil has played Chile 12 times since 2000, with 10 wins and a pair of draws to its name against its South American cohort. In this round four years ago, Brazil beat Chile 3-0 en route to the semifinals. I’m not sure it will be as decisive this time around, but we’re still in the portion of the tournament when it would be unthinkable to see Brazil go out. Luis Felipe Scolari tinkered with his team a bit against Cameroon and the team could finally have its best 11 on the field Saturday.

Chile has two world-class players in Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, but Brazil’s depth is going to be the difference here. It has a host of players in support of beloved national hero Neymar, and while it won’t be the comfortable 3-0 win it earned in South Africa, Brazil is the likely team to go through here.

There’s much less drama in the second match, with Luis Suarez banned. Uruguayan officials have likened Suarez’s suspension for biting to the team being disqualified from the tournament, and they are almost right — this is a tough matchup to enter without your best player.

Colombia’s nine goals in the tournament are second-most in the tournament, but the corresponding celebration dances are top of every list. Star forward James “Don’t Call Me James” Rodriguez is the breakout star of the World Cup, and with Uruguay reeling from the Suarez ban, it’s hard not to see the Colombians advancing here.

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