Brazil v Bolivia: Silva lacking no motivation ahead of Copa America

By Sports Desk June 13, 2019

Thiago Silva has already fulfilled a childhood dream by representing Brazil, but he lacks no motivation heading into the Copa America.

Brazil - eight-time Copa America champions - host this year's tournament and take on Bolivia in the opening match at Sao Paulo's Morumbi on Friday.

Tite's side will be without key man Neymar, who will miss the competition due to an ankle injury sustained in a 2-0 friendly win over Qatar on June 6.

Silva played just twice for Brazil after the 2018 World Cup, from which Brazil were eliminated by Belgium in the quarter-finals, and acknowledged he had been unsure whether he would make the cut for the Copa America on home soil.

"I carry the passion, the pride, and the gratitude of being here. We are here on merit, for our good work for our clubs and [in our] careers," the Paris Saint-Germain defender told Brazil's official website.

"I realised a childhood dream that I had. We have to give value to this moment. 

"I did not know if I was going to be here, but I was going to try until the last minute. That's what moves me, this passion.

"If I did not have that motivation, I would call Tite and say I could not play. [I would] enjoy my vacation with the family. 

"But [people] who know me know how I work. At 34, I have to be very proud of myself for everything I've done, and what I'm still going to do."

Brazil won the last of their Copa America titles in 2007 and, following an infamously crushing semi-final loss when hosting the 2014 World Cup, the pressure is on the Selecao to deliver silverware again.

Silva has no doubt that even without Neymar - who has been replaced by Willian, with Ajax forward David Neres expected to start on the left wing - Brazil's squad has the capability to put previous disappointments behind them.

"Because I was on the field against Belgium, I felt even more sad. And maybe because I thought I would not make it to the next World Cup," Silva said.

"No one is sure, but let's work as much as possible and see what is in store for us in the future. I think we have a lot more victories in our lives than these defeats."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil - David Neres

Having enjoyed a stellar season with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, Neres received his first international call up in March, replacing injured Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior. After making two substitute appearances, Neres was handed his first start after Neymar withdrew from the squad. He marked the occasion by scoring Brazil's fifth goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Honduras, and the 22-year-old will be eager to take full advantage of his chance to impress on home soil.

Bolivia - Carlos Lampe 

Bolivia are not blessed with much in the way of attacking talent, and, although they will no doubt put in a combative display, goalkeeper Lampe is likely to be the busiest player on the pitch. He was in good form to keep the score down in a 2-0 friendly defeat to France on June 2.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil are unbeaten on home soil against Bolivia in all competitions, scoring 46 goals and conceding just four times across 11 fixtures.

- Bolivia have managed just one win in their last seven Copa America tournaments combined, beating Ecuador 3-2 in 2015.

- The Copa America Centenario in 2016 was the first in which Brazil failed to qualify from the group stage since 1987.

- Brazil have won the Copa America on each of the previous four occasions they have hosted the tournament, in 1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989.

- Tite's side need just one win to reach the landmark of 100 victories in the Copa America.

- Bolivia are yet to win under Eduardo Villegas, who has drawn two and lost four across two spells in 2010 and 2019.

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