Sunday, 21st June, 2015, 21:30 GMT
Brazil & Venezuela will kick off in the final group match of the 2015 Copa America knowing fully well the permutations & combinations that will land them a place in the knock out stages.
The match between Peru & Colombia will finish before this match starts & if the former are involved in a draw then one could see the Brazilians & Venezuelans play for a stalemate as well. However, with all teams currently tied at 3 points a piece with the same goal difference it is goals scored which could be the defining criteria in this group. This & the fact that for the 3rd placed team a potential tie with the mighty Argentina will be on the cards.
If both the matches finish goalless then Brazil & Peru would qualify as the top 2 sides from the group with Venezuela edging out Colombia as a result of their superior head to head record. If the match between Peru & Colombia sees a winner then both Brazil & Venezuela will qualify with a draw.
Team News & Tactics
Which are the 3 most ordinary Brazilian teams in history? The 2010 version during Dungaa s first reign & the one which was mercilessly thrashed by Germany 4 years later come to mind. But this current Brazilian team might possibly be the least gifted of the lot.
The likes of Fernandinho, Fred, Elias, et al. would not get anywhere near the great Brazilian teams of the past 50 years & it is no wonder that the Selecao are struggling to qualify for the knock out matches.
The defensive side of the team is pretty settled though with Miranda & Thiago Silva established as a solid centre half pairing and Dani Alves along with Filipe Luis playing as full backs. But the problem for Dungaa s side stems from a dearth of creativity in central midfield. Both Fernandinho & Elias lack that little bit of spark & imagination so important in these cagey modern day international matches.
But the main talking point ahead of this match is the suspension of Neymar a the one man capable of lifting the Selecao above their current level of mediocrity. His irritation at being marked out of the game by Colombiaa s Carlos Sanchez was plain for all to see when he blasted the ball at a Colombia player & aimed a head butt at another. In addition to all this was his abuse directed at the referee.
Talented Liverpool youngster Philippe Coutinho will start in place of his captain but even though he might inspire Brazil to a win on Sunday that might be the final act of joy for this very limited Brazilian side.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Jefferson; Alves, Miranda, Silva, Luis; Elias, Fernandinho; Willian, Coutinho, Fred; Firmino
Team News & Tactics
That Venezuela have a chance to win this game shows how far Noel Sanvicentea s side have come from a decade ago. Back then the Venezuelans were the traditional whipping boys. But under Sanvicente & previous manager Cesar Farias they have got impressive first wins against the likes of Brazil & Argentina.
Sandwiched between these 2 results was the historic 4th placed finish in the last edition of the Copa America. To emulate that result they will need atleast a draw in all probability & it will not be easy even if they are playing against one of the weaker Brazilian teams of recent times.
While the Venezuelans started out with a fine win against the fancied Colombians they were deservedly beaten by Peru who were assisted by the sending off of Fernando Amorebieta. Against Brazil they will have to be well drilled defensively & hope that the likes of Jose Rondon & the veteran Juan Arango can find a way past Silva & Miranda.
Sanvicente will probably stick with the same set of players as the first two matches with the only change being the addition of Gabriel Cichero in place of the suspended Amorebieta.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Baroja; Roberto, Vizcarrondo, Tunez, Cichero; Rincon, Seijas; Vargas, Arango, Guerra; Rondon
Player to Watch Out For
This is the perfect opportunity for the Liverpool man to lay down a marker that he deserves to wear the famous green & gold of the Selecao. In the absence of Neymar all the creative onus will lie on the shoulders of this 23 year old and how he copes with the added pressure will determine how far Brazil progress in the competition.
Brazil 1-0 Venezuela
The Brazilians should have just about enough quality to see off this plucky Venezuelan side.