Hosts Brazil are set to face Bolivia in the opening match of the Copa América at the Cícero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium in Sao Paulo on Friday.
The 8-time winners will be looking to get off to a winning start as they aim to win the trophy for the first time since 2007. In fact, in the previous three editions, the Selecao have failed to get past the quarterfinals, including a group stage exit in 2016.
However, this time Tite’s men are placed in a comfortable group, consisting of Venezuela and Peru along with Bolivia. Thus, they are favorites to win the group and make a strong push to win a major trophy since 2013, when they won the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Meanwhile, Bolivia are one of the lower-ranked teams in the competition and have won the previous version of Copa America, the South American Football Championship, in 1963. In this century, they have got past the group stage just once, reaching the quarterfinals in 2015.Embed from Getty Images
The other teams in Group A, Venezuela, and Peru are relatively stronger opponents compared to Bolivia. Thus, Brazil is the favorites for the match, and Tite’s men will be itching to start with a winning note.
In terms of team news, Brazil will be without their best player, Neymar, who was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury during the warm-up games. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is the talisman in the side, and now others will have to step up in his absence.
This could see Philippe Coutinho move into the front three or Ajax sensation David Neres earn a start on the left side of the front three. Gabriel Jesus is expected to get the nod up front ahead of Roberto Firmino while Alisson and Filipe Luis will start in goal and left-back ahead of Ederson and Alex Sandro respectively.
Coming to Bolivia, Eduardo Villegas has a fully fit squad at his disposal and is expected to name the same starting lineup which played against France in the recent friendly.
In terms of form, this match-up is pretty one-sided. Brazil have won 9 of their last ten games, scoring 25 goals and conceding just 2 in that run. Further, they have registered eight clean sheets in those ten games.
On the other hand, Bolivia are winless in their last seven games and have scored just three goals across those matches.
Considering head-to-head, both teams have met nine times, with Brazil winning 4 of those meetings while Bolivia were victorious twice. In the last three meetings, Brazil scored nine goals and conceded none, winning 2 of those games.
Brazil vs Bolivia Prediction
Thus, Brazil are absolute favorites even without Neymar, and Tite’s men can be expected to win comfortably and keep a clean sheet as well.
Brazil Predicted XI: Alisson; Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Luis; Arthur, Casemiro, Coutinho; Richarlison, Neres, Jesus
Bolivia Predicted XI: Lampe; Diego Bejarano, Haquin, Jusino, Marvin Bejarano; Castro, Galindo; Saavedra, Justiniano, Chumacero; Moreno