ARGUABLY the game of the Copa America group stage arrives on Thursday morning as Brazil take on Colombia in a crunch Group C showdown. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out the best bets.
Brazil v Colombia | Thursday 01.00 | Premier Sports
The Copa America has so far lived up to its reputation for shock results with Colombia falling victim to Venezuela in their opening Group C encounter. That result means Jose Pekerman’s men simply must avoid defeat against their bitter rivals Brazil on Thursday morning if they wish to secure a top-two finish.
That’s easier said than done for Los Cafeteros who tend to struggle against the Samba Boys. You have to go back to 1991 for their last victory against Brazil – it’s their only success in 16 meetings against the five-times World Cup winners. But I’m not prepared to write off the coffee-loving nation just yet.
It’s less than 12 months since Colombia lit up the World Cup and although the defence has been overhauled they’re a better unit side than the choking effort against Venezuela. Los Cafeteros struggled to link in midfield and appeared unbalanced as they went forward – the resilient Venezuelans were rarely threatened and deserved picked up maximum points.
Heading into that fixture Colombia had scored in seven on the spin and won 14 of their previous 16 matches. However, Brazil were responsible for both losses in that run but the bad blood left over from the quarter-final clash should provide plenty of motivation for Pekerman’s troops for a slice of revenge this time around.
Brazil made it 11 successive victories since their World Cup debacle with an unconvincing showing against Peru but Selecao supporters have been quick to point out that Dunga’s charges have beaten the likes of Chile, Argentina, France and Colombia during that impressive streak. Indeed eight clean sheets from those 11 outings suggests the Samba Boys have a new found solidity about the team but I beg to differ.
Jefferson and David Luiz combined for a howler in the opening few minutes of their curtain-raiser and although Luiz can handle himself as a solid one-on-one defender, he’s proven time and again to be a liability with his positioning and decision-making. It’s an area that must be targeted by Colombia as even the modest Peruvian forwards caused enough problems to add to their tally.
Skipper Neymar is very much the go-to man for the Selecao and his starring role in the Peru win left us all purring. With the Barcelona man in fine scoring form, it would be a surprise if Brazil failed to enhance their record of scoring in each fixture under Dunga’s watch, especially against an unfamiliar Colombian defence.
But as already suggested, Los Cafeteros simply must go for the win and should James Rodriguez and co get their act together, there’s more than enough talent to hurt the Brazilians. With that in mind, Both Teams To Score seems a sensible play at an eye-catching 19/20 with William Hill. It’s proven a winning selection in eight of Brazil’s last 11 competitive matches.
I’m also going to chance Colombia in the Asian Handicap market. It’s 5/6 (BetVictor) on Colombia +0.50 and we’ll pocket profit should Pekerman’s underdogs avoid defeat. I remain confident enough in the squad’s ability and knowing they must get something from this clash plus the added revenge factor, I’m hopeful they’ll dig in and put a hugely improved performance on show.
Brazil v Colombia – Both Teams To Score (19/20 William Hill)
Brazil v Colombia – Colombia +0.50 Asian Handicap (5/6 BetVictor)