SOUTH AMERICA: Copa América
Time: 10:00 PM
Venue: Estádio Nacional de Brasília (Brasília)
Postponed from 2020, the 47th Copa América gets underway with nine-time winners and holders Brazil, taking on Venezuela – one of two CONMEBOL members yet to win the title. Much of the tournament build-up has centered around the controversial switching of countries from joint-hosts Argentina and Colombia, due to Covid-19 and political issues respectively, to Brazil – one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic.
Despite the possibility of empty stadiums, the switch is likely to greatly favour the hosts who have won the tournament outright each time it’s been held on Brazilian soil (x5). They also own a formidable record in Copa América openers, not losing their opening game to any fellow South American side (only Mexico x2) since 1979 (W10, D3), a run that includes three 15-1 aggregate wins (+D1) versus opponents Venezuela!
With two recent wins in World Cup Qualifiers (WCQ), Brazil head into this match in Brasilia on a run of seven straight victories, six without conceding! All but one of those victories also saw a -1 handicap win and means Brazil are likely to add to their unbeaten record in home Copa América openers (W4, D1 – GF:22, GA:3).
Ten-years on from their best-ever finish in this competition (4th, 2011), and amid much political chaos at home, Venezuela are perhaps surprisingly ranked as the 30th best team in the world – up from 129th in November 1998. That’s despite winning just one of their last six games (D1, L4), with four even seeing them fail to trouble the scoreboard.
José Peseiro’s side will need to be at their absolute best here to get any sort of result, but they’ve only beaten the ‘Seleção’ once in H2H history (D3, L22), back in a friendly in 2008, and scored in just six of those games. There’s hope however, as Venezuela are unbeaten in their last five Copa América openers, including a 0-0 draw with Brazil in 2011.
Players to watch: Neymar has been on the losing side once in his 49 international goalscoring games; he’s never netted versus Venezuela. Amid a number of injuries and absentees, Venezuela may look to prolific Atlanta United striker Josef Martínez for goals. Venezuela have won all but two of his goalscoring games (W8, D1, L1).
- Brazil’s form in last 5 matches: WWWWW.
- Venezuela’s form in last 5 matches: DLWLL
PREDICTION: Home and Over 1.5