Brazil Limp to Point from Their Opening Copa America Stalemate

South American correspondent Tom Webber brings you all the action from the Copa America.

After a 7 minute delay in La Plata, the game between Brazil and Venezuela finally got underway. Neymar and Ganso both started for Brazil and it would be interesting to see how they dealt with not being favourites for the tournament. Perhaps it would enable them to play with that classic freedom and flair that are so often declared as traits of the Brazilian game. The excitement and anticipation of the crowd added to the buzz surrounding the game.

Brazil came out the blocks quickly and the game was stretched from the beginning. Early attempts never really troubled Vega in the Venezuela goal but both Alexandre Pato and Neymar looked in good form with such delicate control. The front four of Ganso, Robinho, Neymar and Pato were linking up well but could not seem to create that clear cut opportunity to get a goal.

The Brazilian defence did not look solid and Rondon looked like he had the power to make something of nothing up top for the Venezuelans, but the first real chance fell to Brazil. Dani Alves undertook one of his customary surges down the right wing before squaring the ball into the box to Pato. The Milan striker rolled the ball out of his feet and slammed it goalwards. His shot rattled the crossbar and the Brazilians could not maintain the pressure despite some moments of flair from Neymar.

Pato had another opportunity after a long ball from Ramires which he controlled sublimely, plucking it out of the air with one touch as he peeled off a defender. His shot could match the majesty of his touch and was straight into the keepers body, who despite spilling the ball briefly, had enough time to re-gather it. Brazil were playing some great football but just seemed to be trying to do too much and pass the ball in to the net. While their play was pleasing on the eye, they needed something more clinical in and around the box as they struggled to work Vega.

There was a penalty claim in the 39th minute when Neymar played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Robinho in a 3-on-2 situation. The Brazilian tried to roll the ball back across the goal towards the far post. He beat the keeper but Vizcarrondo got back to block the shot with what looked to be his arm. The referee did not give the decision and the replays showed that he had made the correct choice as it hit the Venezuelans shoulder.

For all their possession, at the end of the first half Brazil had not scored and they went into the break still goalless. They started and finished strongly but the majority of the game lacked chances, and of the few there were, the finishing was poor.

The second half began just as stretched as the first but Brazil again struggled to create anything. Ganso was ineffectual and Neymar was pleasing to watch but not producing anything worthwhile.

Venezuela were by know means holding out for a draw and had their own chances as the match drew on. Arango caught the Brazilian defence napping and won the ball back in the opposing half. He clipped a lovely ball in towards Rondon but there was too much power and Julio Cesar caught the cross. They followed this up with a swift counter attack that saw a number of passes move the ball across the pitch from right to left where it reached Arango. His shot was not up to par and he snatched at it, dragging it across the goal without troubling Julio Cesar.

Lucas Moura, Elano and Fred all came on but did not have the desired impact. The game ended 0-0 which was a fantastic result for Venezuela. They will be extremely pleased with their result but the Brazilians will be wondering were it all went wrong. They struggled to create chances and were not clinical enough. Perhaps they paid the price for a fairly inexperienced forward line and needed something to give them another dimension, which I am unsure as to whether Fred has the quality for.

They need to be more clinical and could do with a player like Leandro Damiao or Hulk leading the line but Menezes has left them out of the squad. There are times when a different approach may be needed to help open up a defence and create chances, a more direct one perhaps. However Menezes squad selection will make this difficult to achieve. Questions will be asked back in Brazil as to whether this squad has enough experience to succeed after this display.

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