A Nation's Hopes Live On

Pressure. That's what Brazil was facing.  Every member of the Brazilian squad was under enormous pressure from both their hometown fans and the world as a whole.  A country filled with unrest, rampant poverty, and numerous protests in the past few years, was looking to their beloved national team to take their minds away from the hardships at home and hopefully win a remarkable sixth World Cup.  

These hopes looked in the balance today in Brazil's 2nd round game against Chile.  Early on, the Brazilians looked in control of the game in the early-goings. In the 18th minute, Chile scored an own goal on a set piece, though the goal was credited to Brazil's David Luiz.  Chile then answered in the 32nd minute with a goal by F Alexis Sanchez who is teammates with Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez Celebrates His Equalizer

Both teams were chippy throughout the game, as numerous fouls occurred and cards were given out. The game went back and forth the rest of the time with both teams taking multiple shots and maintaining possession almost equally.  

In the second half, Brazil's Hulk made a great run, received a pass from Marcelo, and put the ball in the back of the net.  However, the goal was disallowed on a controversial call of a handball by the official.  Nevertheless, the replay clearly showed that the ball glanced off Hulk's shoulder, and thus the referee made the right call.  Chile kept the momentum on their side, and the Brazilian squad was very tense to say the least.  

The rest of the match remained scoreless and was forced to go into extra time and then penalties. At the end of the 2nd extra time, Chilean F Mauricio Pinilla struck the ball off the crossbar, inches away from sending Brazil home.  GK Julio Cesar of Brazil made two terrific saves on the first two Chilean penalties while both David Luiz and Marcelo converted their penalties. 

Brazilian Keeper Julio Cesar Blocks the Penalty Kick of Chilean Star Alexis Sanchez. 

Down 2-0 in penalties, Chile answered with two scores by Charles Aranguiz and Marcelo Diaz. Then with the pressure of a country on his shoulders, the bright, young star Neymar stutter-stepped and put a ball promptly in the goal.  That proved to be the go-ahead score as Gonzalo Jara's shot glanced off the post thus shattering Chile's upset hopes as well.  

Neymar Celebrates

Brazil has shown what could be some fatal flaws and weaknesses in their latest game and throughout this World Cup.  Nonetheless, the millions of people throughout Brazil still have something to cling to - their beloved national team.  Success in the beautiful game is something the Brazilian people can take pride in.  In American terms, it's patriotism.  For Brazil, it's hope. It's a break from the struggles of normal life.  It's more than just a game.  

The pressure on each Brazilian player is hard to understand. For Julio Cesar, he dreams of redeeming himself from his disappointing performance in the last World Cup and doesn't want to be remembered like the infamous Barbosa.  For Neymar, it's the pressure of being expected to carry Brazil and beliefs that he could be the next Pele.  For Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, he doesn't want to be remembered as the coach who oversaw Brazil's defeat on their own soil.  

The game wasn't pretty.  Questions still remain.  Brazil is expected, almost commanded to win this World Cup.  Many outsiders don't think they can now, but that doesn't matter to the Brazilian populace. As long as Neymar, Hulk, David Luiz and crew continue to don the old yellow and blue, there is still a chance.  There is still hope.  There is still the beautiful game.  

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