An emphatic display by Brazil saw the defending champions kickstart their Copa America title defense with a convincing 3-0 victory over Venezuela in the opening game of the tournament.
The 47th edition of the Copa America has been a long time coming, primarily due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As recently as two weeks ago, its commencement was up in the air following doubts over the host nation.
Brazil stepped in at the death to host the competition for a consecutive edition. They sent a statement of intent to the rest of the continent with their performance on the opening day.
Coach Tite made three changes to the side that saw off Paraguay in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier last week. Alisson, Renan Lodi and Lucas Paqueta all came into the starting lineup at the expense of Ederson, Alex Sandro and Roberto Firmino.
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Neymar was injured when his nation lifted a ninth continental title on home soil two years ago. The Paris Saint-Germain man is, however, keen to make up for that and was the chief instigator as his side steamrolled over Venezuela.
A bright start to the game saw Brazil go close through Eder Militao and Richarlison. Marquinhos then broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute with a left-footed finish.
Brazil continued to dominate proceedings and should have doubled their lead before halftime but for poor finishing.
It was more of the same in the second half. Neymar finally got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, scoring his 67th goal in national colors.
Referee Esteban Ostojich had initially waved play on when Yohan Cumana felled Danilo in the box. However, he rescinded his decision after consultations with the VAR.
From then on, it was cruise control for the Samba Boys. They added more gloss to the scoreline when Gabriel Barbosa scored with a header from Neymar’s cross in the 89th minute.
The victory helped Brazil lay down an early marker in Group A and puts them in good stead to win a 10th Copa America crown.
Here is a rundown of how each Selecao player fared in the routine victory.
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Brazil player ratings against Venezuela
Alisson Becker – 6/10
Alisson Becker was practically a spectator for most of the game. However, he was his usual calm self in distribution and handling.
Renan Lodi – 5.5/10
The Atletico Madrid man did not provide enough width in attack, and his first-half yellow card saw him hauled off for Alex Sandro at halftime.
Marquinhos – 8/10
Marquinhos got Brazil on their way to a routine win when he showed great awareness to react to a rebound in the first half. He also tidied up effectively on the rare occasions that Venezuela threatened.
Eder Militao – 7/10
Eder Militao put in a solid defensive shift alongside Marquinhos and played his role in ensuring that Alisson remained untested.
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Danilo – 7.5/10
Danilo was practically camped in Venezuela’s half, as Brazil’s utter dominance limited his defensive duties. The Juventus man won the penalty from which Neymar scored.
Fred – 6.5/10
Fred helped Brazil control proceedings in midfield with his effective tackling and distribution. He was substituted for Fabinho with four minutes to go.
Casemiro – 7/10
Casemiro was his usual ever-present self in the Brazil midfield. He played a key role in ensuring the hosts did not relinquish control of the game.
Lucas Paqueta – 5/10
The Lyon man got the nod in one of the few unguaranteed spots in the starting lineup. He, however, failed to deliver and was replaced by Everton Ribeiro at halftime.
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Neymar – 8.5/10
Neymar had several chances to score more goals but was let down by uncharacteristically poor finishing. He ended the night with a goal and an assist. His goal means he is now just 10 goals behind Pele in the race to become Brazil’s all-time highest goalscorer.
Richarlison – 6/10
Richarlison had some decent chances to find the back of the net but failed to take them. His position will be made less secure by the fact that his replacement scored from the bench.
Gabriel Jesus – 6.5/10
Gabriel Jesus made marauding runs throughout his time on the field and constantly put the Venezuelan defense on the back foot.
Alex Sandro – 6/10
The Juventus man came off the bench at halftime and helped provide more depth down the left flank of attack.
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Everton Ribeiro – 6/10
The Flamengo midfielder did not look out of place in midfield alongside established European players after he came off the bench.
Gabriel Barbosa – 7.5/10
The in-form Palmeiras man had an eventful game that saw him receive a yellow card just one minute after coming on. He scored his side’s third goal one minute from time. All of this came in just 25 minutes of action.
Vinicius Junior – 6/10
The Real Madrid forward came on with just six minutes to go but made a mark by kickstarting the move that led to the third goal.
Fabinho – 5/10
Fabinho replaced Fred in the 84th minute and provided fresh legs in the Brazil midfield to see out the game.
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