Brazil 3-0 Venezuela: 5 talking points as holders off to a flyer in silent tournament opener | Copa America 2021 

Brazil comfortably saw off Venezuela in tournament opener
Brazil comfortably saw off Venezuela in tournament opener

Brazil started their title defense with a 3-0 demolition of Venezuela in the opening game of the Copa America 2021.

Marquinhos, Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa were all on target for Seleccao, who took a healthy lead in Group A.

The hosts started the match brightly and made their dominance count after Marquinhos headed a Neymar corner in the 23rd minute.

The PSG star then popped up with a penalty in the second-half after Danilo was fouled inside the area by Yohan Cumana. Substitute Barbosa then came off the bench and pounced on a defensive mistake to round off the proceedings.

Venezuela, who were missing in several players through COVID-19, were second-best for most of the match and never really tested Brazil in any way.

Here are the five major talking points from the match.

#1 Brazil got the job done but lacked cutting edge

Brazil have to be more clinical from open play
Brazil have to be more clinical from open play

How a side that won by a margin as comprehensive as 3-0 can lack a cutting edge is a question on a lot of minds. The fact is, this could've been a rout of Venezuela had Seleccao not been so wasteful with their chances earlier on.

Within the first 10 minutes of the clash, Brazil came close to scoring on three occasions. Each time, they were let down by some poor finishing, especially from Militao, who headed just wide off the post from close-range.

The reigning champions lost some of this early momentum as the match went on, but then sprung up with two more opportunities. This time, it was Neymar who let down by dragging his shot wide while Richarlison saw a chipped effort cleared off the line soon after.

#2 Venezuela clearly missed key players

Venezuela were no match for Brazil
Venezuela were no match for Brazil

Venezuela's squad is ravaged by 13 positive COVID-19 cases. The list includes key stars like Tomas Rincon, Roberto Rosales, Romulo Otero and Josef Martinez, while prolific striker Salomon Rondon is out injured. Without so many of their regulars, La Vinotinto were always going to struggle and so they did.

In large swathes of the game, Jose Peseiro's side struggled to even get hold of the ball. Brazil would immediately close their players down and force them into committing mistakes. Indeed, Venezuela registered just 38% of the ball possession in the game.

They struggled to produce anything meaningful going forward and it comes as no surprise that Venezuela's only shot on target in the match too came from a set-piece situation.

#3 Marquinhos is the Sergio Ramos of Brazil

Brazil centre-back Marquinhos scored another header goal
Brazil centre-back Marquinhos scored another header goal

Since the start of the 2020-21 season, Marquinhos has scored eight goals for club and country, six of which have been headers, including one tonight. He's posting figures reminiscent of a certain centre-back called Sergio Ramos, just without the penalties.

The PSG star's heading ability is well-documented and rose the highest to meet Neymar's corner kick tonight to net another crucial header. It shows how potent he remains from set-pieces and provides an additional scoring avenue for Brazil.

#4 Graterol was Venezuela's best player

Graterol impressed between the sticks for Venezuela
Graterol impressed between the sticks for Venezuela

We already spoke about how Venezuela looked debilitated without their key players and struggled to get going. However, it wasn't all doom and gloom for them. Joel Graterol, their goalkeeper of the night, put on a fine display, making several crucial stops and saves to frustrate Brazil.

He twice produced strong hands to deny Gabriel Jesus. Graterol even came off his line to collect the ball when needed to evade a danger. The custodian showed a maturity and vision that went beyond his years. It's hard to believe this was only his third outing with Venezuela, for he looked right at home between the sticks!

#5 Neymar's penalty style is too risky

Neymar scored a penalty but is technique remains questionable
Neymar scored a penalty but is technique remains questionable

Neymar was on target from the spot again as he converted a penalty to give Brazil a two-goal cushion. Full marks for that, but it cannot be ignored that his penalty-taking style is very risky, and goalkeepers can easily guess the right way sometimes.

He took his time after referee blew the whistle, scampered up a few steps, and then slowly took a shot which, in this case, sent the opposition goalkeeper the wrong way. However, in a match to Ecuador earlier this month, and in a Ligue 1 clash in May, the star didn't have so much luck.

It led to his technique being widely criticised and as long as Neymar continues with this, he's going to miss a lot more penalties in the future.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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