1/1 9/4 27/10
The biggest match of the Copa America thus far sees Brazil face Colombia in what promises to be an entertaining matchup as both team’s philosophies are to play sexy, attacking football. The Samba Boys have an excellent record against Los Cafeteros – unbeaten in the last 15 meetings with 10 victories including three on the spin. This time, however, Brazil will come up against the best Colombian team they’ve ever faced and could struggle to stop their deadly attack from running havoc. Brazil and Colombia are one of the top sides in the world, and both teams have entered the 2015 Copa America tournament with high hopes of leaving with the trophy.
Dunga’s Brazil have made it 11 wins out of 11 after getting their Copa America campaign underway with a 2-1 win over Peru. With Group C rivals Colombia slipping to a shock 1-0 defeat to Venezuela earlier in the day, the Selecao now have the advantage. Brazil’s 2-1 win over Peru on Sunday was far from the team’s most glamorous result under Dunga, but the victory nevertheless extended the manager’s 100 per-cent record at the helm since being re-appointed last year. That streak leaves Dunga with just one win away from matching the record of 12 consecutive wins Aymore Moreira managed between 1961 and 1962 before going on to lead Brazil to the 1962 World Cup. Neither Dunga nor his disciples will be distracted by such accolades, though, if they hope to surpass them, memories of the 2014 World Cup should provide motivation. This side is different to the one that took to the field at the World Cup. More organised defensively, moving the ball at a higher speed and more effective on the counter-attack. The defence, so comprehensively bypassed by Germany and the Netherlands, has been rebuilt, with only David Luiz remaining. After inexplicably being left out of the squad in 2014, Atletico Madrid centre-back Miranda has been installed as the organiser-in-chief, with startling success: the Selecao have conceded just two goals since the World Cup. Hopes of restoring some pride in Chile though are pinned on Neymar and he is more than accustomed to bearing that burden by now. The Barcelona star was in dazzling form against Peru, showing off his sublime skill, clowning a pair of Peru defenders with his dribbling and scoring his side’s opening goal before assisting the winner. He produces the goods more often than not, as evidenced by his ludicrous goalscoring record at international level. Neymar now has 44 goals in 63 games for Brazil – keeping him quiet will be Jose Pekerman’s biggest test. The Brazilians will be looking to earn their ninth Copa America title and their title credentials will be assessed against this Colombian outfit.
Colombia got their Copa America campaign off to a poor start, as they went down 1-0 to Venezuela in their Group C tie on Sunday evening. Colombia, a quarter-finalist in last year’s World Cup and one of the tournament’s most exciting teams, were poor throughout the match, despite fielding the likes of Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez, and top goalscorer and captain Radamel Falcao. Los Cafeteros will need to pull themselves together and focus entirely on beating the Brazilians – something they’ve failed to do in their last 15 meetings against the South American giants. However, with the world class players at Colombia’s disposal, they have every chance of victory this time. After years of underachievement whilst employing defensive tactics, Los Cafeteros have reaped the benefits of attack-minded variations of 4-4-2 and 4-2-2-2. Real Madrid star James Rodriguez roams inside, retreating to the left when out of possession, while the full-backs surge forward to provide width, often leaving just one genuine holding midfielder covering. It’s thrilling when it works but leaves them vulnerable to counter-attacks. Chelsea’s Juan Cuadrado’s pace and work rate will be very important for Colombia down the right wing as he comes up against his club teammate Filipe Luis. Cuadrado will be looking to put up another brilliant show for his country and win the faith of his manager at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho. Falcao – who looks set to join Cuadrado at Chelsea – will be hoping to get back on the score-sheet after firing a blank against La Vinotinto. Falcao had a miserable season with Manchester United over the last year, spending a lot of time either on the bench from poor performances or in the training room nursing various injuries in the wake of his major knee injury suffered a year and a half ago. El Tigre will be hoping to recapture his form from his Atletico Madrid days. Interestingly, despite his poor form at the club level, Falcao has scored five goals for Colombia this year in just seven games.
Jefferson; Dani Alves, Miranda, D. Luiz, Filipe Luis; Fernandinho, Elias; Willian, Fred, Neymar; Diego Tardelli
Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Murillo, Armero; Sanchez, Valencia, Rodriguez, Cuadrado; Bacca, Falcao
Prediction: Both Teams To Score + Brazil Win 33/10
Brazil are priced at even money while Colombia are valued at 27/10. The Samba Boys are in a rich vein of form with 11 straight wins while Colombia’s defeat to Venezuela was their third loss since the World Cup with Brazil beating them on the other two occasions. The Selecao should claim maximum points, but given the attacking talent on both ends of the pitch, take Brazil to win plus both teams to score at a tasty 33/10.