Copa America hosts Brazil will take on fellow Group A members Venezuela on Wednesday when the pair meet for their second and penultimate group stage fixtures for this tournament. The home side come into this one as heavy favourites, but also with quite a large amount of pressure following their comprehensive seeing off of Bolivia first time around, whereas Venezuela don’t carry the weight of a nation on their shoulders and don’t have to do it with their national star missing, which might give them a mental edge of sorts. In the end, this should be another routine outing for Brazil, but Venezuela know that a win would actually put them above their opponents by one point so there’s everything to fight for.
Since the news of Neymar’s injury shocked the footballing world earlier this month, Brazil have kicked on and put in two excellent displays against Honduras and Bolivia, racking up ten goals in the process. Following the 2-0 victory over Qatar, the match which saw PSG’s attacker leave the field in the first half, a 7-0 thrashing of Honduras arrived three days later. The stars of that game were undoubtedly Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Coutinho, but the real challenge began when they were matched up against Bolivia six days after. Their opponents set out to slow down and frustrate Brazil, and the tactic worked well until the second half when Coutinho netted a penalty just after half time, however the tension within the stadium at half time could have been cut with a knife. Coutinho found the net again only three minutes later, and Everton got on the scoresheet to make certain of maximum points with five minutes remaining. That performance should have eased the nerves of the players, but they will need to maintain that level in the coming weeks.
Venezuela’s chances of getting something from this fixture increased slightly with the news of Neymar’s absence, however they would have seen what Brazil did against Honduras and Bolivia and perhaps gave themselves a reality check. In the week which preceded the first match of their Copa America campaign, Venezuela defeated the USA on their own turf by three goals to nil in a magnificent display at the Nippert Stadium as Salomon Rondon and Jefferson Savarino bagged the goals in the first 36 minutes of the tie. The match was virtually done and dusted at that stage, allowing Venezuela to give some fringe players a run out and set the tone perfectly for their all important clash with Peru. Unfortunately for Venezuela, the encounter with Peru did not go as they would have desired with their opponents preventing them from getting anywhere near as many clear cut opportunities as the USA did. Luis Del Pino’s sending off made things even more difficult for his side, and in the end, Venezuela were left hoping that they could get something from this game as the affair finished goalless.
It’s unlikely that Brazil will want to sway too far from what’s worked ever so well for them so far, and we expect that they will line up with a similar attacking formation as they have done previously, with three in midfield and three at the front. The names may change, although it will probably be Roberto Firimino, Richarlison and Coutinho who remain certain to begin the game with David Neres also expected to start. Midfielder Arthur is a slight doubt due to a knee injury he picked up, but he has talked down the severity of the issue so he could be available for selection here, while Fagner continues to struggle through a thigh problem.
Venezuela don’t have any injuries to their Copa America squad of note, which will be a major plus for boss Rafael Dudamel as he prepares his team for their biggest game of the group stage matches. 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1 appear to be the preferred line ups, and one of those will likely be utilized on Wednesday night in an attempt to beat one of the best teams in the world. Striker Salomon Rondon is expected to lead the line barring any injury or dramatic turnaround in ideas from the manager, and the attacker will be hoping to pick up any stray balls and nod long passes down to his onrushing teammates on counter attacks.
It’s very difficult to see anything other than a victory for Brazil from this one, simply due to their incredible firepower up front, exciting interplay between the midfielders and impressive balance throughout the field. Venezuela however, have got an excellent defensive structure and for that reason we can see a low scoring ninety minutes, and under 2.5 goals at 5/4 with Skybet looks good to us. Coutinho netted a brace in the opening fixture and will be desperate to prove that he’s still at the top of his game after a devastatingly hard season with Barcelona, and another goal from him wouldn’t come as a surprise. Skybet have the 27-year-old to get on the scoresheet at anytime here at 13/10. As we mentioned earlier, Venezuela’s defense is solid and having kept successive clean sheets they’ll have belief in their ability to make it three on the bounce, but Brazil will have too much for the away side and a winning margin of exactly two goals looks most probable. You can find odds of 11/4 for that to happen with Skybet.
Under 2.5 goals at 5/4
Coutinho to score at 13/10
Brazil winning margin of 2 goals at 11/4