• World Cup

Sanchez hopes for 'strong' refereeing from Webb

ESPN staff
June 27, 2014
Biggest group stage surprises

Chile's Alexis Sanchez has urged Premier League referee Howard Webb not to be swayed by pressure in their World Cup last sixteen meeting with host nation Brazil on Saturday.

Brazil were given a highly controversial penalty in their opening 3-1 win over Croatia, while a seemingly offside goal by centre-forward Fred was allowed to stand in the 4-1 victory over Cameroon.

Chile, meanwhile, were angered by the officiating in their final group appearance - a 2-0 defeat to Netherlands - after which Ghanaian referee Bakary Gassama was heavily criticised by Chilean FA president Sergio Jadue.

With the South Americans pressing for an equaliser, Stefan De Vrij's goal line clearance with his elbow went unnoticed before Netherlands sealed the victory with a second goal in the closing stages.

FIFA has appointed experienced English referee Webb for Saturday's game in Belo Horizonte, and Barcelona's Sanchez said strong officiating was needed for such a pressurised fixture.

"I am very happy to be playing against the hosts, against the best defence in the world, a team with impressive quality -- but what most worries me is the refereeing," Sanchez said. "Well, we will see what happens."

Webb, 42, took charge of the World Cup final four years ago and is considered one of the strongest officials on the circuit. His first game in Brazil was the Group C encounter between Colombia and Ivory Coast with his performance leading FA chairman Greg Dyke to label the English officials as "world class".

Sanchez's comments echoed those of colleague Arturo Vidal, who has said he hopes to see "balanced" refereeing on Saturday.

Sanchez said he was confident that Chile, who saw off defending champions Spain in the group stages, could continue to thrive.

"We are going out to win the game," he said. "We came to the World Cup to make history, and that is what we are doing. We beat the world champions.

"I am proud of my teammates - we are going to show that we can do great things, as we did against Spain."

Meanwhile, Sanchez - who has been linked with a summer move to Liverpool, Arsenal, Juventus or Atletico Madrid - welcomed Barcelona's signing of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, his international captain.

"I was not surprised by the signing," he said. "[Bravo] is the special type of goalkeeper that Barcelona needs. He is very good with the ball at his feet."

Webb will be the man with the whistle on Saturday in Belo Horizonte © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close