The opening match of the 2019 running of the Copa America sees the tournament hosts Brazil in action when they take on the lowest ranked side in the competition in the form of Bolivia to start up Group A of the event in Sao Paulo.
Brazil will be under plenty of expectation to get off to a winning start and it will be interesting to see how they handle that. Bolivia probably have a free hit here knowing that one win from their matches could be enough to progress.
Winning will be the overriding aim for Brazil in their tournament opener but if they can come out on top and look good in the process that will be the ideal situation. There are understandably a few doubters wondering what they will produce without Neymar and it is up to those left to show that they can win this competition in his absence. We may not know that for sure here but the doubts will only grow if Brazil labour to victory.
The Brazilians have warmed up for this tournament nicely and their thrashing of Honduras last week would have been the perfect prelude to their opening game. A repeat of that performance is what they will be looking for although the Bolivian defence may be tougher to break down. Patience could be a big requirement in the Brazilian play and it will be fascinating to see whether they have that.
It goes without saying that this is a huge test for the Bolivians, the hardest that was possible in their opening match and with goal difference potentially playing a part in who qualifies and who doesn’t they will have to decide whether to attempt to contain and frustrate the home side or if they should have a go and try and get something to cling on to before they get exposed and the task becomes even more difficult.
You wouldn’t think Bolivia will be prepared to get too many men forward initially in this match but when they have been beaten by Curacao and Iran in recent times they might as well have a go as it is hard to see them keeping Brazil out for 90 minutes. Bolivia have won just one of their last 16 matches so anything they take from this one has to be considered a massive upset.
It is well known by now that Brazil will be without Neymar for the entirety of the tournament. David Neres was his replacement against Honduras last weekend but Willian has come into the squad in place of the PSG star.
The make up of the Bolivia side could be anything for this encounter but the one thing we can be relatively sure of is that Marcelo Martins will lead the line. He is the only player who doesn’t play his club football in the Americas and is their best hope of something positive from the game.
This is a hard match to bet on given that it is the opening game of the competition. They are usually tight affairs but this looks like one of the bigger mismatches in the entire tournament. That said, the handicap for this one is three on the Asian lines and while Brazil could cover that with a bit in hand, you wonder whether they will be all out to do so.
That leaves me looking to the side markets for a punt in the game and given that Richarlison has scored in three of Brazil’s last five internationals, including both warm up matches in the last week or so, the even money on him finding the net looks a decent bet to me. He’ll play up front, maybe from the right and he is a threat on the ground and in the air. He has enough of a goal threat to make me think that the Everton man can deliver the goods here.
Back Richarlison to score anytime for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Sky Bet