Brazil v Paraguay – Saturday 9th July – Cordoba, Argentina (21:00)
The Copa America got off to a slow start for eight-time Copa America Champions Brazil who were held to a goalless draw by Venezuela in their opening match. They will have it all to do in their next group match against Paraguay.
The Brazilians had the bulk of possession, but missed a host of chances that saw Pato hit the woodwork early on and Robinho and Neymar missing good opportunities. The five-time world champions continued to pressurise, however as the game wore on they failed to use their possession to create enough goal scoring opportunities against a resilient Venezuelan team. The young Brazilian team lacked the experience needed when faced against a defensive minded team who were happy to settle for a point. That said they should do much better against Paraguay where they will be able play their more natural attacking game. Mano Menezes started with an attacking minded team consisting of what has been dubbed the ‘magic quartet’ consisting of Robinho, Pato, Neymar and Ganso tucked in behind them from midfield. The new generation will almost certainly be built around Santos’ prize jewels Ganso and Neymar, who have been attracting major interest from Europe’s biggest clubs. Neymar was once again Brazil’s stand out performer as he tried his hardest to create chances for his team but his efforts failed over and over again against a packed Venezuelan defence.
Paraguay and Ecuador cancelled each other out in their opening Copa America fixture to ensure Group B started with a pair of 0-0 draws. World Cup quarter-finalists Paraguay looked dangerous throughout the match, particularly during the opening half-hour when striker Roque Santa Cruz and Lucas Barrios created a number of opportunities. Paraguay now ranked 32nd in the world possess an aging team of quality players who were ranked 17th a few years ago and have dropped down the rankings since. New sensation Lucas Barrios will be a player to watch for Paraguay here. Prolific at club level for Borrusia Dortmund, Barrios will be looking to translate that form to the international arena. The Argentine born midfielder who has adopted his mother’s nationality has banged 47 goals in 79 matches for Dortmund.
An end to end match is expected with both sides looking for wins after drawing their opening matches. The last meeting between these sides ended in a 2-1 win to Brazil and the Samba Boys are tipped to do it again over Paraguay as they look to kick-start their Copa America campaign.