SOUTH AMERICAN football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Group A's second round group game between hosts Brazil and Venezuela in Salvador at this summer's Copa America, highlighting his best bets.
Brazil v Venezuela | Wednesday 19th June 2019, 01:30 | Premier Sports
Brazil’s impatient home support in Sao Paolo made their feelings known at half-time in their opening Copa America encounter with Bolivia. The Selecao were expected to swipe the South American outsiders aside with consummate ease – and did eventually run out 3-0 winners – but with the contest goalless at the break, frustration was felt from the stands.
The Samba Boys had made a bright start to proceedings, prodding and probing the Bolivians. However, Tite’s charges lost their way thereafter with the experienced head coach demanding more precision in their passing, as well as a pushing Fernandinho into a more advanced role to move Brazil’s possession play higher up the field.
There had been too much caution to the Selecao’s first 45 minutes with Casemiro and Fernandinho underworked against the ultra-defensive Bolivians. Elsewhere, Roberto Firmino again failed to adequately fit his role as the central striker, too often dropping deep and stepping on the toes of Philippe Coutinho in the playmaking position just behind.
Fortunately for Brazil, they were given a helping hand in breaking the deadlock immediately after the interval. VAR correctly called a hand ball minutes after the restart – allowing Coutinho to convert – and space soon began to open up for the Selecao. Richarlison enjoyed the extra freedom and teed Coutinho up for a second not long after the opener.
Brazil are an effective, efficient and clinical beast when scoring first or getting their noses in front, enjoying the extra spaces and relaxing in their roles. However, there is a sense that this side can lack leadership, patience and control when plugging away as frustrations grow. The potential return of Arthur here should at least provide more thrust in central areas.
Venezuela to offer resistance
Venezuela were fortune to escape with a share of the spoils in their opening clash with Peru in Porto Alegre. La Vinotinto lost the Expected Goals (xG) count 1.93-0.84, saw their opponents have two goals ruled out by VAR, whilst also denying Peru by a combination of last-ditch blocks and outstanding reflex saves from star stopper Wuiler Farinez.
Left-back Luis Mago was sent off 15 minutes from time for a second yellow card and will require replacing, although Rafael Dudamel’s well-drilled outfit aren’t expected to make sweeping changes here despite their relatively tame performance against Peru. In fact, Venezuela will likely try to follow Bolivia's footprint with Salomon Rondon their outlet.
Baseball is king in Venezuela and although the social and political crisis continues to headline at home, the nation’s football side has been making steady progress under the guidance of Dudamel. The former goalkeeper has worked hard to make La Vinotinto a tougher prospect to beat with reasonable success.
The Copa America’s historically-worst performers have risen to an all-time high of 29th in the FIFA rankings, benefitting from the success of their various underage sides. Venezuela have W5-D10-L4 since the start of 2017 with four of those victories arriving in their most recent nine outings, whilst the underdogs have only been behind at the break once in their last 17.
The betting angle
Brazil have taken top honours in 10 of 11 unbeaten matches since exiting the World Cup, registering nine clean sheets in the process. Under Tite’s watch, the Selecao have W30-D5-L2 and leaked just 10 times in almost 56 hours of action, highlighting their ability in both boxes and rubber-stamping their place as hot Copa America favourites.
The Samba Boys beat Venezuela 2-0 and 3-1 during World Cup qualification and have suffered a sole reverse in 24 previous meetings between the pair, although the hosts have won by a margin of three goals or more just once in their most recent seven showdowns and opposing a large Brazil success appeals on Tuesday night.
Venezuela finished bottom of World Cup qualification with just two wins from 18 matches, with only Argentina enduring more stalemates than their six. However, they did hold Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina during their campaign and beat La Albiceleste with room to spare in March’s friendly fixture, commanding a degree of respect.
La Vinotinto have scored n 11 of their 12 international friendlies since failing to reach Russia with six of their past eight matches paying-out for Both Teams To Score backers, and so I’m also wary of the potential threat the underdogs pack in the final-third, particularly through Rondon’s physicality.
Therefore, I’m happy to take the 19/20 (Betway) on Brazil winning in a fixture that features Under 3.5 Goals in Salvador. This selection has proven profitable in 14 of the Selecao’s last 18 triumphs with El Salvador and Honduras the only nations to ship more than three goals against the Samba Boys since the start of 2018.
Brazil v Venezuela – Brazil to win and Under 3.5 Goals (19/20 Betway)