FINAL SCORE | BRA 3-0 VEL
FULL-TIME: No surprises there! The defending champion’s Copa America 2021 campaign is up and running. This has been an impressive display from Venezuela nonetheless, given how the side had to summon 15 new players after a COVID-19 outbreak in the dugout.
90 + 1′ Gonzalez off for Hernandez.
90′ Three minutes have been added on.
88′ Barbosa chests the ball over the goal line from just a couple of yards out to bring home the host’s third.
85′ Castillo comes on for Casseres. The host makes further changes as Jesus leaves the pitch for Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior. Liverpool’s Fabinho replaces Fred.
83′ Neymar accelerates and just when he seemed fated to pocket a brace, he strokes the ball into the side-netting.
80′ Del Pino has been booked for an offense on Barbosa. Brazil has been rewarded with a freekick. Casemiro takes a grounded shot on goal but Graterol stops it on this occasion.
79′ Celis darts towards the opposition half but ends up getting crowded out by Casemiro and Co.
76′ RichardCelis replaces Manzano. Captain Aristeguieta makes way for U-20 star Sergio Cordova.
75′ Brazil has stuck to its task well when it comes to defending in its own half. We are entering the final 15 minutes in Brasilia. Venezuela is expected to haul in a few changes shortly from its seven-man bench (five if we count out the keepers).
72′ A series of deft passes on the right culminates in Jesus trying to work a ball behind Barbosa but finding a Venezuelan defender instead.
69′ Venezuela, trying to mount a counter-attack, is just unable to find a way through the holder’s defence.
67′ Jesus in need of attention as Manzano sends him tumbling.
65′ Yellow card!Gabriel Barbosa comes on for Richarlison and well… goes straight into the book for an untimely challenge.
63′ PENALTY! A clip on the back ankle of Danilo from Cumana means Brazil has a freebie. The replays prove to be fairly conclusive.
GOAAAL! Neymar, cool as you like, slots home for the 67th time in Brazil colours. He is edging closer to Pele’s record.
60′ Venezuela heaves a sigh of relief! Neymar is the architect once again, nudging a clever ball to Richarlison. Gonzalez steers it away.
60′ At the hour mark, there has been no real stepping up from Brazil, which still looks quite comfortable with the 1-0 lead.
58′ Venezuela on the charge again but Marquinhos is there in the nick of time to head it behind. Corner for Venezuela. A cluster of Brazilian players in the penalty area head it away.
55′ Richarlison dribbles away from two Venezuelan defenders but fails to thread a pass to Neymar in the centre. Not quite Richarlison’s night, this.
53′ Neymar, at the back post, was just unable to find the finishing touch. Ribeiro and Jesus combine to lay one in the path of the PSG mainstay, who ends up being a fraction adrift of extending the lead.
51′ Much of the play is still restricted to the Venezuelan half. Brazil is finding it difficult to breach Peseiro’s 4-5-1 blockline.
48′ Richarlison finds himself at the end of another promising cross but the Everton playmaker lets go of the opportunity again with a wayward header. Understandably, thumps the ground in frustration!
46′ Neymar whips in a well-executed corner to Alex Sandro, who shoots way over the crossbar.
45′ Twin changes for the host at the break. Ribeiro and Alex Sandro replace Paqueta and Lodi, respectively.
HALF TIME: After the first 45 minutes, Brazil leads the possession charts 60:39. While the host had a total of three shots on target, Venezuela only had one attempt to show for itself.
45 + 1′ One final setpiece opportunity for Venezuela before the Uruguayan referee blows the whistle. Alisson steps up to stop a shot on target.
45′ There will be two added minutes here in Brasilia before we break for the first half.
41′ A brief stoppage of play as Martinez and Jesus go down inside the box as they simultaneously jump to meet a rising header. The physio is on the ground to check for a possible concussion. Looks like they are okay to carry on.
38′ The first yellow card of the game as Lodi goes into the ref’s book.
37′ A brief heart-in-mouth moment from Venezuela as Richarlison lobs one over the head of the keeper. Offside!
35′ Another cross-in from the left for Brazil as the ball sails out of play, having struck Martinez’s shoulder. There is also a brief VAR check for a potential handball. It has been headed away by the Venezuelan defence.
30′ Jesus acts on a little space on the far side but La Mantia heads the ball away to safety. Twice.
29′ A let-off for Venezuela! A wonderful clipped ball from Militao, from near the midfield, finds Neymar in the danger area. The PSG star gains control with a wonderful first touch, but then drags his shot inches off target.
25′ And another! Richarlison slots home. Ah, scratch that. The flag is up. He is a tad bit early on the ball.
22′ Brazil leads! Marquinhos scores the first goal of Copa America 2021; his third in national colours. The PSG defender is alert as the ball drops in the six-yard zone. A clever little finish in the end, outfoxing Cumana and Graterol, breaks the deadlock.
21′ Fred probing away near the midfield, sniffing around for possible errors.
19′ Another corner for the host. The Venezuelan defence heads the ball away but Danilo wins back possession outside the box. He presses the trigger but Graterol saves the day again.
16′ An easy take for Alisson as Venezuela takes its first corner of the match after Marquinhos wards off Martinez’s attempted cross.
14′ Neymar, finding himself in a bit of open space on the left flank, goes for goal. Catching practice for Graterol.
11′ Aristeguieta takes a hefty whack on the side as Militao tries to work away a searching long ball.
10′ A great ball in for Richarlison from the outside of the box but the Everton forward fails to convert. And again… under 30 seconds! Brazil is knocking on the doors now. A wonderful pass from Lodi but Militao’s header sails wide.
7′ Neymar, who tries to drill the ball across, ends up winning a corner. So close! A well-executed drive into the area from the PSG striker but Jesus reaches the far post a little too late.
5′ Venezuela comes clear as Danilo fails to link up with Jesus and break free from an onrushing Cumana.
4′ Gonzalez gives away a freekick on the left, while trying to prevent Neymar from breaking into a quick run.
2′ Danilo makes the most of a throw-in to send in an inviting cross towards the near post. Richarlison fails to latch on.
1′ Aristeguieta clips Jesus’ ankles early on and the referee has a word with the Venezuelan captain.
02:32 AM IST: KICKOFF! The ref blows the whistle and we are underway. Aristeguieta and Co. get the ball rolling from left to right.
02:31 AM IST: A minute silence being observed to salute the frontline warriors.
02:25 AM IST: Time for the national anthems. Venezuela up first.
02:24 AM IST: The players are making their way out onto the pitch accompanied by the match officials.
We are only minutes away from kickoff and as was expected, Venezuela’s team news presents more of a horror story.
There are two shot-stoppers on the seven-man bench for the visitor. Jose Peseiro’s men line up in a 5-4-1 formation with four central midfielders. Nahuel Ferraresi’s “doubtful negative” COVID-19 test earlier in the day means he won’t feature in the final eleven. The side is without 5 CBs for tonight’s fixture.
Fernando Aristeguieta, the skipper, is the only striker with debuts being handed out to La Mantia, Jose Martinez, Cumana, and Adrian Martinez.
Only a miracle can prevent Brazil from running riot!
Brazil (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Danilo, Militao, Marquinhos, Lodi; Casemiro, Fred; Richarlison, Paqueta, Neymar; Jesus
SUBS – Silva, Sandro, Ribeiro, Weverton, Emerson, Fabinho, Vini Jr, Soares, Firmino, Barbosa, Felipe, Ederson
Venezuela (4-5-1): Graterol; Mago, Martinez, Cumana, Gonzalez; Casseres, La Mantia, Moreno, Martinez, Manzano; Aristeguieta
SUBS – Farinez, Cordova, Murillo, Hernandez, Romero, Celis, Castillo
Brazil: Alisson; Danilo, Militao, Marquinhos, Lodi; Casemiro, Fred, Paqueta; Jesus, Neymar, Richarlison
Venezuela: Graterol; Gonzalez, Ferraresi, Chancellor, Villanueva, Rosales; Savarino, Moreno, Rincon, Castillo; Martinez
Usually a lopsided contest, Brazil has a whopping record of having registered 22 wins out of 27 games against Venezuela. The visitor, on the other hand, has only managed two victories.
Their previous meeting took place in 2020. Brazil won that contest 1-0 thanks to Roberto Firmino, who is set to miss the contest today.
Brazil is starting Lucas Paqueta upfront instead of the experienced Firmino against Venezuela in its Copa America opener, coach Tite said.
Goalkeeper Alisson is also replacing Ederson, and left-back Renan Lodi is in for Alex Sandro to face an adversary that has been ravaged by COVID-19 in the latest 24 hours.
Brazil is the emergency host of a troubled Copa America which starts on Sunday after original hosts Colombia and Argentina were pulled. The Selecao-Venezuela opening match is at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.
Paqueta, who plays for Lyon, scored Brazil’s second goal in a 2-0 win at Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier this week. Firmino started that game, but his performance was far from impressive, as in recent matches for Brazil.
Tite added on Saturday that he’s starting Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Neymar as forwards — all three can play on the wings and as target men. Paqueta is expected to play as a midfielder.
The coach revealed he asked the then president of the Brazilian confederation, Rogerio Caboclo, not to stage the Copa America before it was even assigned to Brazil as an emergency host. Caboclo was suspended on June 5 due to a separate sexual harassment claim.
“I asked, the athletes asked, (the coordinator of the national team) Juninho asked before it was decided it would be played in Brazil. We were loyal,” an unusually outspoken Tite said. “Before it was taken to the president (of Brazil), to the country, we said we wouldn’t like (to play). They asked us for some time, then they decided, and we got exposed.”