The Copa America begins on Sunday evening with the opening matches in Group B getting the competition underway. The first match sees the hosts and defending champions Brazil taking on the lowest ranked side in the group in Venezuela in Brasilia.
Both sides know that they have an extra group game to usual which means that should they wish to they can ease their way into the tournament a little more but straight from a week of World Cup qualifiers there should be no need to take time to get up to speed.
Brazil are always compared to that great side in 1970 and even the one which won the World Cup in 1994 and while this crop overall aren’t as good as that one, they are still a pretty decent side and one which is probably further clear of the rest in the continent than those that went before ever were. That will bring pressure to their shoulders and it will be interesting to see how they go about managing that but there are plenty of winners in this side.
I don’t think Brazil are quite as exciting going forward now as they were in the past. They are a lot more defensively competent and sound though which is why they are getting great results but they are a nation who love their flair and that has to be relevant in their football as well. That is why fans don’t quite get behind this side like they could so it might even do Brazil a favour that this tournament is being held behind closed doors.
Back in those eras I spoke about Venezuela were the whipping boys of South American football but they are slightly better than that these days. In fact they are a good deal better than that and there will be a time when they really announce themselves on the tournament scene. They have been going well at youth level for a while and although that doesn’t always translate itself into senior success, it means they are giving themselves the best chance.
The likes of Salomon Rondon and Josef Martinez are the ones primed with the task of leading this Venezuela generation and they are extremely good and effective at what they do, although surprisingly the latter hasn’t made their squad for this tournament. Whether they can land a blow on Brazil in this match will be another thing but this is easily the hardest match in the group so if they can take something out of the game, even if it is only some confidence of a good performance, then it could serve them well.
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Tite is expected to name a strong side for this opening match and a very attacking one with Roberto Firmino, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar all expected to feature from the start. Ederson played in the World Cup qualifier in Paraguay on Tuesday night but Alisson Becker is expected to return here.
Venezuela boss Jose Peseiro surprised many judges when he chose not to select Salomon Rondon for this competition. That means there will be more emphasis on Josef Martinez to deliver the goods with the likes of Romulo Otero backing him up.
Brazil are overwhelming favourites to win this match and I understand why and I think they will win the match but they have made heavy weather of overcoming ‘La Vinotinto’ in recent times. In their last three meetings they have won 2-0, 1-0 and drawn 0-0 so it isn’t as though Brazil overwhelm Venezuela these days and at the end of a long season and with plenty of matches coming thick and fast in this tournament I don’t expect a landslide win here either.
Venezuela have only conceded nine goals in their six World Cup qualifiers and six of those came in two matches so as a general rule they don’t ship a lot of goals so I’m not sure Brazil will overwhelm them to the tune of the scores that are expected courtesy of the betting market. That makes me think that despite their attacking options, the best bet is for Brazil to win the match but there being under 3.5 goals as I don’t envisage Venezuela being too attack minded in this tournament.
Back Brazil to win and under 3.5 goals for a 3/10 stake at 1.95 with Bet365