VENEZUELA’S rapid rise as a footballing nation has stagnated in the past 18 months but could La Vinotinto recapture the form that saw them finish fourth in 2011? Tim Vickery (@Tim_Vickery) and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) talk you through their chances of success with a helping hand of Hispanic football expert Darren Spherical at hispanospherical.com.
- Outright Winner: 80/1 (SkyBet)
- Group C Winner: 20/1 (William Hill)
- Top-Two Group C Finish: 4/1 (BetVictor)
- Highest Scoring Team: 100/1 (SkyBet)
- Form Post-World Cup: W3-D0-L5
Tim Vickery’s View
Mark O’Haire’s View
For a country that sees football as a secondary sport behind the dominant baseball, Venezuela have made great strides on the soccer pitches over the past 15 years. A 2007 quarter-final appearance at the Copa America was bettered by a fourth-placed finish in 2011 and a famous win over Argentina in World Cup qualifiers. Are Venezuela ready to make their mark?
That early promise has dissipated over the past 18 months. La Vinotinto eventually finished five points off a play-off position in the World Cup qualifiers and a lack of goals has haunted the side badly. Venezuela have netted two or more goals in just four of their past 20 competitive outings and their 14-goal haul from 16 qualifiers simply wasn’t good enough.
Noel Sanvicente took over the reigns in July 2014 but it’s been an inconsistent and rather disappointing first year in charge for the country’s most successful domestic manager of all-time. At least half of the 2011 side will be back for another bite at the Copa this time around but previous performances under ‘Chita’ have left locals fearing the worst with Los Llaneros dealt the toughest draw possible.
A 1-0 friendly victory over group rivals Peru in March suggests the side are capable of getting the better of the battle for third but it’s worth noting the Peruvians were without Claudio Pizarro, Jefferson Farfán, Paolo Guerrero and Juan Manuel Vargas for that date whilst their two wins over Honduras in early February occurred when only home-based players were called-up – the bulk of which won’t feature in Sanvicente’s preferred XI.
To further dampen Venezuelan hopes, their pre-tournament friendly with Bolivia has been cancelled meaning Los Llaneros have now had five internationals ditched in the past nine months alone, throwing their preparation further into doubt. It’s far from ideal.
Sanvicente typically sets the side out in a 4-2-3-1 but his main concern must be to tighten the team up, make them more compact and robust and find answers for their lack of pace in defence. But Los Llaneros are also lacking in the final third – an inability to create from open play and reliance on set-pieces, long-range attempts and defensive clangers begs the question, where are the goals coming to come from?
‘Chita’ accepts an improvement is needed in Chile and with the growing football fandom back home growing restless after an abundance of lacklustre performances, Venezuela must get the better of Peru to allay fears of a further drop off in national team standards before World Cup qualifiers begin again in the autumn.
The View From The Inside
“It is hard to know how things will transpire as while there is undoubted talent in the Venezuelan side, they have struggled to display this under Noel Sanvicente. While they could easily lose all three games, a quarter-final place is eminently attainable and what the players will be aiming for.
“They will need some luck but if they reach that stage, with two games separating them from the final and their experience as underdogs defying expectations, they will feel anything is possible.”
- Darren Spherical (@DarrenSpherical) at hispanospherical.com.
- Venezuela vs Colombia | 14th June 2015 | 20.00 | Premier Sports
- Venezuela vs Peru | 19th June 2015 | 00.30 | Premier Sports
- Venezuela vs Brazil | 21st June 2015 | 22.30 | Premier Sports
Venezuela Form & Stats
|Last 10 Competitive Games||W3-D3-L4||Last 20 Competitive Games||W6-D7-L7|
|0-0 Draw||0/10||0-0 Draw||1/20|
|Over 1.5 Goals||8/10||Over 1.5 Goals||15/20|
|Over 2.5 Goals||4/10||Over 2.5 Goals||7/20|
|Over 3.5 Goals||1/10||Over 3.5 Goals||3/20|
|Over 4.5 Goals||1/10||Over 4.5 Goals||3/20|
|Both Teams To Score||5/10||Both Teams To Score||10/20|
|Fail To Score||3/10||Fail To Score||6/20|
|Clean Sheet||2/10||Clean Sheet||5/20|
|HT Draw||3/10||HT Draw||7/20|
|Over 1.5 Team Goals||2/10||Over 1.5 Team Goals||4/20|
|Win + Both Teams To Score||1/10||Win + Both Teams To Score||2/20|
*All stats and form correct until 30 May 2015*