Favorites Brazil will open their Copa America campaign when they play Bolivia in the opening game on Friday.
The Selecao were heavy favorites for the tournament, but recent developments have hampered that to some extent. Brazil played Qatar in a friendly recently, and star forward Neymar got injured in that match. He played just 22 minutes and hobbled off with an ankle problem. Brazil football revealed a statement later which said that Neymar would miss the whole of the Copa America. The Paris Saint-Germain player has ruptured his ankle and will be out for a couple of months.Embed from Getty Images
Since his move from Barcelona, injuries have harassed Neymar. He has faced lengthy spells on the sideline in each of the last two seasons. Those injuries have stopped him from playing in the crucial games of the Champions League. He played in the World Cup last summer, but he is set to miss this tournament for Brazil. Chelsea winger Willian was chosen as the replacement for Neymar in the squad.
Richarlison played on the opposite flank against Qatar, and he netted the opening goal. He is set to retain his place on that flank. Everton was the substitute who came on for Neymar, but Tite has other options he can go to. David Neres or Willian can be called upon to start on the left wing for Brazil. Philippe Coutinho is likely to stay in the ‘number 10’ role as he looks to put a disappointing club season behind him.Embed from Getty Images
Brazil has looked good since the World Cup, and they will be one of the favorites despite Neymar’s absence. They will come up against a lowly Bolivia side in their first game. Bolivia has not won a competitive match in 2019, despite having played four. Their last game was a friendly against France, who beat them 2-0. Bolivia looked woefully out of touch in that game, and they need to improve considerably if they want to trouble Brazil.Embed from Getty Images
Bolivia is currently 63rd in the FIFA ranking. They failed to qualify for the World Cup last summer, and they will be one of the weakest teams on paper in the tournament. All but three players in their squad play their club football in their native country. Marcelo Martins is the most experienced player in the team with 72 caps to his name. The striker plays in China for Shijiazhuang Ever Bright. He has scored 17 goals for his country, which is three less than the record which is held by Joaquin Botero.
Brazil vs Bolivia Prediction
Brazil will go into the game as heavy favorites. They should claim a comfortable win to get their campaign off to the perfect start. Their preparation has not been ideal, but the likes of Coutinho and Jesus should guide them to victory against Bolivia. Brazil has a hugely experienced squad, especially at the back with the likes of Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, and Joao Miranda. A clean sheet is likely, and a win by a margin greater than 2.5 should be the result.