Bolivia and Venezuela go head to head on Saturday as the pair face off in their final Group A fixtures in this summer’s Copa America. Neither side will be particularly ecstatic with how their opening two encounters have played out, with Bolivia bottom of the pile having suffered defeats in both outings, while Venezuela took two points from the first two games. Victory for Bolivia would see them finish in third spot and in with a chance of qualifying for the next stage of the tournament, however if Venezuela were to come out on top they could have the opportunity to finish in the top two.
It’s safe to say that Bolivia have not enjoyed their time in this year’s Copa America as well as they would have liked, losing each of their matches so far and netting only one goal. Even prior to the tournament’s beginning there were signs of what was to come, with no victories since October when they saw off Myanmar and getting beaten in all of the final three warm up matches for the Copa America, failing to bag a single goal in any of those ties. A 3-0 crushing at the hands of Brazil was acceptable. They could certainly live with one of the best and most talented sides in world football putting the ball past their goalkeeper on three occasions, especially when taking into account that they kept the score to 0-0 until five minutes after the interval. However, the 1-3 loss versus Peru will have hit the Bolivian camp hard. After taking the lead through Marcelo Moreno from the penalty spot before the half hour mark, their opponents then slotted the ball home three times from the 45th minute onwards. This result has proven detrimental to Bolivia’s hopes of qualifying for the next stage of the Copa America and it will take something similar to a miracle if they are to make it through.
Venezuela haven’t been hit by results quite as difficult as Bolivia, but they are still yet to get on the scoresheet in the tournament. Their build up to the tournament actually went well, beating the USA by three goals to nil on their own turf and playing out a draw with Ecuador in Florida. Their opener against Peru was rather disheartening though as neither side could open the scoring which led to an opportunity rich, yet surprisingly dull affair. The match was overshadowed by the red card shown to Luis Del Pino fifteen minutes from time for a second bookable offense, meaning that he was subsequently banned from taking part in the following matchup with Brazil. Playing against a host nation in any tournament is tricky, but that is multiplied about 100 times when facing off against one of the most historical nations in footballing history. In spite of the challenge, Venezuela held their own and earned a fully deserved point even though the ball was in their net twice – only for the officials to disallow the goals both times due to an infringement and an offside involving Roberto Firmino.
Bolivia lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation in their two opening matches in the Copa America thus far, and it has not worked wonders for them in the 180 or so minutes they’ve attempted to use it. Although they will need to attack far more in this one due to the poor nature of their position on the group table, it is unlikely that they will sway too far from what they’ve become used to. For that reason, we can see Bolivia starting with a 4-4-2 or remain with the 4-4-1-1, though the latter is far too defensive in a game which holds so much importance to them. They are expected to have a full squad available here.
Venezuela utilized two different formations in their first two games. Against Peru, they began in a 4-3-2-1 with Rondon as a lone striker ahead of Jhon Murillo and Jefferson Savarino. Unfortunately for them, it did not go to plan and in the end, Venezuela were left with ten men and only one point. Upon their meeting with host nation Brazil, Venezuela decided to opt for a more defensive approach by lining up in a 4-1-4-1. This was their way of crowding out the opposition midfield and forcing counter attacks of their own – a rare occurrence during these ninety minutes. For this encounter, it would be a shock to see Venezuela go for a defensive approach in a match which means everything.
These two sides have struggled to no end in their attempt to get amongst the goals in this Copa America, with Bolivia bagging only once and Venezuela still on the hunt for their first strike in the competition. Due to this, whoever wins here will likely do so by a small margin, probably no greater than a solitary goal. Skybet have under 1.5 goals in the tie at 5/2, a bet we recommend highly. Venezuela are the favourites despite not finding the net even once up to now at 4/9 with Skybet, but it is a different bet that we’ve got our eyes on. Skybet have Venezuela to win to nil at 6/5, and considering they’ve kept a clean sheet in their first two outings there’s no reason to believe they won’t repeat that feat on Saturday. If a Venezuelan goal is going to come at some point, it will probably arrive from the foot – or head – of Salomon Rondon. The Newcastle loanee of last season shone for the Geordies at times and popped up with some crucial goals in their quest for safety, so he knows how to deal with high pressure environments. He did it against Argentina, and Skybet have the striker to leave his mark again anytime at 6/4.
Under 1.5 goals at 5/2
Venezuela win to nil at 6/5
Rondon to score anytime at 6/4