Copa America Preview: Brazil face Venezuela in La Plata
The Copa America 2011 is underway under chilly conditions in Argentina as the hosts were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Bolivia in La Plata on Friday evening. Argentina’s bitter rivals and defending champions Brazil open their campaign with a tricky opening fixture against a fast improving Venezuela on July 3 at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.
Mano Menezes’ two-time defending champions have a daring young look to the 23-man squad and the Selecao are again firm favourites to lift the title in the land of their eternal rivals Argentina. Although the Samba boys have won four out of the last five South American championships and have lifted the cup everytime Brazil have hosted, the five-time World Cup winners have never been able to win the Copa America in Argentina and in that sense the likes of Neymar, Robinho, Ganso and Alexandre Pato have their task cut out in repeating their dominance in Latin America.
Cesar Farias’ Venezuela are the rank outsiders in this tournament but are a heavily improving side that could cause an upset on any given day. Recent record in the Copa Americas is certainly not to write home about with just two wins in 49 outings but La Vinotinto have a good mix of young and the old in their squad with the likes of Jose Manuel Rey, Giancarlo Maldonado and captain Juan Arango giving stability to the side with their experience while youngsters such as Roberto Rosales, Tomas Rincon, Yohandry Orozco, Nicolas Fedor and Jose Salomon Rondon are expected to make an impact in Argentina. Venezuela are the only South American side not to have qualified for the World Cup and their best performance in the continental showpiece had been in 1967, the first time the nation competed in the Copa America, where they came fifth.
Since Mano Menezes took over as the coach of the Selecao, he promised attractive football although recent results have proved to be much harder as Brazil look to rebuild for World Cup 2014. Defeats in friendlies against Argentina and France have underlined the enormity of the job in hand for the former Corinthians boss Menezes and even though Brazil have the hottest football property in the world in the form of Neymar at their disposal, goals have been hard to come by in matches against Holland and Romania as the team prepared for the Copa America. Yet, as we have seen many a times before the Verde-Amarela nation have the capacity to lift any prestigious title by the sheer presence of the Brazilian charisma and enthusiasm coupled with the habit of winning silverwares.
Venezuela do not have the pedigree of the likes of Colombia, Paraguay or Equador to pose a considerable threat to the Copa America or for that matter Brazil on Sunday but Cesar Farias has assembled a talented and hard working side that would be hard to break down and this is an outfit that would be tireless all day long in their pursuit of the Selecao. Recent form of the Venezuelans has impressed even Mano Menezes. The Brazilian national team coach was quoted as saying on the eve of the Copa America, “We don’t have many ‘dead chickens’ in football. Venezuela certainly isn’t one of them because they are working to change their situation. We saw the tough match they played against Spain. There’s a clear intention to change the style of play, adding more audacity.”
Venezuela: Renny Vega(GK), Jose Manuel Rey, Roberto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Gabriel Cichero, Tomas Rincon, Yohandry Orozco, Luis Manuel Seijas, Juan Arango(C), Jose Salomon Rondon, Giancarlo Maldonado.
Brazil 2-1 Venezuela