THE COPA AMERICA gets underway on Friday night as tournament hosts Brazil take on Bolivia in Sao Paolo. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) runs the rule over the best betting options.
Brazil v Bolivia | Saturday 15th June 2019, 01:30 | Premier Sports
Hosts Brazil kick-off the Copa America against one of the least fancied teams in the tournament in Bolivia at Sao Paolo’s Morumbi Stadium in the early hours of Saturday.
After a disappointing World Cup on their own patch back in 2014, the Selecao will be looking to right those wrongs of five years ago. From a playing quality perspective and squad list, it’s hard to argue with Brazil’s short quotes in the outright market, however, failure to deal with the pressure as hosts in the past is enough to put me off. That said they have every right to be optimistic ahead of this opener.
The Samba Boys come into this clash on the back of a 7-0 spanking of Honduras. What’s more, they’ve won all but one game since their loss to Belgium at the World Cup, conceding just two goals in the process.
Throw in Bolivia’s awful record away from their La Paz base and you’ll be even more keen to side with them. La Verde have won just three of their last 66 away games – a quite remarkable statistic – and many would therefore question how they can compete against their Copa rivals in World Cup qualification?
Bolivia without their secret weapon
Well, it’s down to one of the biggest home advantages around and that is the fact their Stadio Hernano Siles home is 12,000 feet above sea level. With almost the entirety of the national team squad plying their trade in their native Apertura they’re naturally acclimatised to such extreme altitudes. Opposition, however, find it very difficult to cope with the change in conditions and it often leads to high levels of fatigue.
It’s therefore no surprise to see them pick up some eye-catching results in Miraflores including a draw with Brazil as well as wins over Chile and Argentina in the past couple of years. Having said that, take that asset away and they’re a poor side. Eduardo Villegas’ outfit desperately lack goalscorers too, they’ve failed to score in five of their last six and their only win in their last 16 games was in a friendly against Myanmar.
Bolivian players are also frustrated that they don’t have a set training base in their own country due to lack of facilities and investment. They’re miles behind Brazil in every department it seems.
Brazil can cope without Neymar
There’s the obvious blow for Brazil with their mercurial attacking talent Neymar being ruled out after picking up an injury in a pre-tournament friendly against Qatar. That shouldn’t worry coach Tite here though, he has plenty of options to choose from and the strong competition in forward areas means each player should be eager to impress and get on the scoresheet to tie down a regular spot for future games.
Gabriel Jesus is in fine form for the national side scoring five in his last three, including a brace in the aforementioned fixture against Honduras. Richarlison and David Neres – both of whom are in contention to replace Neymar – also scored against the Central Americans. They also have Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Everton, Willian and Lucas Paqueta who can come in and have an impact in the final third.
The betting angles
Brazil will be eager to get the carnival atmosphere going and I’m expecting all the ball to be in one half; it could possibly take a bit of time to break down a Bolivia side likely to sit deep with a low block. That being said, the Selecao have the individual quality to get through and once they do they’re not going to sit back themselves.
With Bolivia rated as a 5/2 shot simply to score in the game, at least a 3-0 scoreline here is definitely possible. La Verde have conceded five on four occasions since 2015, they’ve also conceded four twice against USA and lost 7-0 against Argentina in that time period.
With the one sided nature of this tie a likely scenario I’m happy to take a punt in the Corner Handicap market too. We can back Brazil with a -5 start on this market at even-money with William Hill and, in all honesty, I expect that line to be higher.
I sense that this Brazil side will be hungry to get things off to a flying start and I can see them trying to get a lot of shots off and shots often lead to corners via saves or deflections. I’d also expect Bolivia to try keep it tight and compact in the middle third of the pitch, which should attract the hosts full backs into advanced areas to attempt crosses if they’re forced out wide, which again tends to be positive for corner backers.
Brazil v Bolivia – Brazil -2.5 Asian Handicap (87/100 BetVictor)
Brazil v Bolivia – Brazil -5 corner handicap (1/1 William Hill)