Copa America 2011: Brazil Vs. Venezuela

Brazil went into the 2010 World Cup as one of the big favorites, but left in the quarterfinals of the competition. Despite taking an early lead on the Netherlands, they found a way to squander that lead, mostly though Felipe Melo losing his head, and it became apparent that it was time for change in the Brazilian camp. Dunga, a former holding midfielder in the Brazilian national team, was blasted at home for not playing beautiful football and praised by foreigners for bringing discipline to Brazil. The fans and press at home won, Dunga was fired, and Mano Menezes took over. Whether or not his team will be successful remains to be seen, but they will be fun.

In the 2011 Copa America, expect Brazil to play a midfield three with Paulo Henrique Ganso in front of Lucas Leiva and Ramires. If you're wondering where the tough tackling defensive midfielder is, he doesn't exist. He left with Dunga. This is a new era of Brazilian football, one where Menezes starts three forwards...and has four forwards in the squad. A massive chunk of the squad is made up with attacking midfielders. It's quite Brazilian.

While their real challenges probably won't come until later in the competition, Brazil could potentially run into a bit of a road block in the group stages. If they do, it's more likely to be against Paraguay or Ecuador than Sunday's opponent Venezuela, but there's a slight possibility that the underdogs could provide them with a scare, especially in a world where Bolivia just drew Argentina in front of a lot of very frustrated people in La Plata.

Striker Jose Solomon Rondon is almost certainly Venezuela's most dangerous player. He's a very fast and powerful striker with a great scoring record in La Liga, and he currently gets paid a lot of money by a guy named Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani. His main creator will be Juan Arango who, despite having a bad season at Borussia Mönchengladbach, is a pretty solid passer of the ball. In defense, they'll be anchored by Roberto Rosales of FC Twente.

This match is the earlier of the two Sunday matches in Copa America, kicking off before Ecuador vs. Paraguay, which will also be covered on SB Nation.

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