Brazil v Venezuela: Reinforcements ready as Selecao seek to step up

By Sports Desk June 17, 2019

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and new Real Madrid man Eder Militao should be available for Brazil's second Copa America match against Venezuela in Bahia.

Arthur, 22, has shaken off knee pain and could reportedly replace Fernandinho in Tite's starting XI, while defender Militao is back in training following a hip issue.

Neither player featured as Brazil secured an ultimately comfortable 3-0 victory over Bolivia in the tournament opener.

Philippe Coutinho's brace and a fine late strike from substitute Everton helped to pacify the home fans after a goalless first half prompted jeers.

Tite subsequently encouraged his players to "understand" the criticism and captain Dani Alves accepted the challenge of meeting high expectations.

"Every time we put on that shirt, we have to prove we can wear it," Alves said.

"We represent a historical selection, respected throughout the world. We always have to carry that responsibility. We have to defend this story with great honour."

Brazil should have the chance to click into top gear against Venezuela, a team they have beaten in six of seven Copa America meetings.

Rafael Dudamel's men disappointed in a drab 0-0 draw against Peru, creating few scoring chances despite being able to call on Salomon Rondon, while Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez was an unused substitute. 

Luis Mago's dismissal for two yellow cards in that match leaves Venezuela needing to find an alternative at left-back.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil - David Neres

Ajax's Neres will hope to have another opportunity to cement a starting berth with Brazil after falling to the fringes of the Bolivia match. More performances like the ones he delivered during the Champions League could beef up his price tag, with Premier League side Everton reportedly keen to unite him with compatriot Richarlison.

Venezuela - Jhon Murillo

Barely seen in his 84 minutes against Peru, Venezuela need more from winger Murillo in order to trouble Brazil. The 23-year-old Tondela attacker has the pedigree to make an impact: he has already scored international goals against Argentina and Mexico in 2019.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil have won 21 of their 24 meetings with Venezuela in all competitions, with two 0-0 draws and a 0-2 defeat in a friendly match in 2008.

- Philippe Coutinho scored a brace and was the Brazil player with the most shots attempted (five), chances created (four) and tackles (seven) in their opening game against Bolivia.

- Brazil have kept seven consecutive clean sheets in Copa America matches played on home soil (W5 D2); the last time they conceded a goal at home in the competition was against Venezuela in 1989 (Brazil won 3-1).

- Venezuela have faced the hosts of a Copa America tournament 14 times, losing each of those 14 games by an aggregate score of 4-61.

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