LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Lucas Leiva of Brazil runs with the ball during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Venezuela: Underdogs Pull Off Shocking Draw

Mano Manezes has ushered in a new era with no more leg-breaking defensive midfielders and more flair than you can shake a stick at. Sunday, they put their new squad and system to the test against Rondon's Venezuela.

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Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Venezuela: Underdogs Pull Off Shocking Draw

If the first three days of Copa America have taught us anything it is that we have no idea what to expect. The tournament started with hosts Argentina having to scrap and claw for a draw against Bolivia. That was a shocker, no doubt, but the Argentineans are prone to head-scratching performances. Brazil? They're the sure thing. They're the dominant team in South America, having won four of the last five Copa Americas. On Sunday though, Brazil wasn't the sure thing as Venezuela stymied the Selecao attack to get a 0-0 draw in the opening match of Group B.

Brazil was utterly dominant in the first half and only Lady Luck kept Venezuela from going down multiple goals. Multiple times it looked as if the Brazilians had a clear crack at goal only to see the shot take a slight deflection and end up in the stands. Pato ripped a shot from 15 yards that had the goalkeeper just watching in awe, but the shot rattled the crossbar and bounced away harmlessly.

Later on it looked like Robinho had tallied, in alone on the keeper and sidefooting the ball seemingly for a goal, but Oswaldo Vizcarrondo came sliding in from out of nowhere to keep the ball out. Brazil appealed for a handball on Vizcarrondo, but replays showed the ball had struck the area where the chest meets the shoulder and the referee did not give it.

Considering how dominant Brazil was in the first half it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before they scored in the second half. There would be one shot that wouldn't deflect wide of the goal. The crossbar wouldn't deny them. The referee wouldn't give every marginal call to Venezuela. That wasn't the case though.

Yes, Brazil was the better team in the second half again, but they weren't nearly as dominating as they were in the first half. Venezuela remained organized at the back and Gabriel Chichero was especially good to clear away any danger. They didn't lose their shape when they went forward, cutting out some of the Brazil counter-attack as well. Neymar, who was poor in the first half was almost invisible in the second half. Robinho also disappeared in the second half before being substituted off and Pato spent far too much time battling the Venezuela defense single-handedly.

Meanwhile, Venezuela put a little but more oomph in their attack. They were cautious and picked their spots, but twice almost scored on crosses that just barely missed a streaking attacker. In the end, Brazil were forced into long balls to no one in particular. Venezuela may have been lucky to escape the first half unscathed, but they were solid in the second half and did their bit to earn a shocking 0-0 draw.

Brazil will continue their Copa America on July 9 in Cordoba against Paraguay, while Venezuela will face Ecuador on the same day in Salta. Brazil and Venezuela each have one point in Group B now, while Paraguay and Ecuador will play Sunday evening to kick off their tournaments.

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Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Venezuela: Brazil Somehow Kept Scoreless In First Half

Maybe it is punishment for the awful hair of Neymar, Robinho and Dani Alves, but for some reason the gods are working against Brazil. They came out with a dominant first half against Venezuela in their first match of Copa America, yet have been unable to turn any of it into a goal as fortune has instead taken the side of the underdogs. Now they head to the second half, hoping that the scoreboard might better represent the play on the field by the end of the second 45 minutes.

Brazil got off to a quick start and just a minute in Robinho dribbled across the top of the box before finding space to fire at goal. It went right at the goalkeeper, but the first of many forays forward had begun. Just a minute after the first chance, Brazil counter-attacked quickly and Neymar was able to slide a ball into Pato, who would have been in alone on the keeper had a questionable offside call not wiped out the play.

Things got a little better from there for Venezuela. Brazil still dominated possession and chances, but the chances weren't coming quite every minute and Venezuela looked decent a couple times on the counter-attack. Defensively, Venezuela depended on blocked shots time and time again. Brazil kept getting chances to fire away at goal, only for Venezuela to get just a little bit of a foot on the ball and deflect it elsewhere. Some generous refereeing helped out too as seemingly every marginal call went Venezuela's way.

It looked like Brazil had finally broken through in the 28th minute when Alves flew down the right flank before sliding a ball towards the center. Ganso let it run for Pato, who took a touch from 15 yards to settle then let a ferocious strike go that had the keeper completely beaten. Unfortunately, he couldn't beat the crossbar as he rattled the iron.

Just 10 minutes later Brazil came agonizingly close again. Once more it was the counter-attack that freed the Brazilians and with Venezuela scrambling to retreat, Brazil had space. Moving quickly, Brazil found Robinho on the left and it looked like he was in alone with just the keeper to beat. That wasn't a problem as he sidefooted a shot past the keeper and seemingly into the goal, but Oswaldo Vizcarrondo had hustled all the way back to slide and block the shot from going in. At first it appeared as if he blocked the shot with his arm as he slid and Brazil thought so as well, appealing to the referee for a penalty kick. Replays showed that the ball struck right around the area where shoulder meets chest though and the penalty was never given.

At some point in the second have common sense would dictate that Brazil will score at least once, if not twice or three times. One shot won't hit the post or Venezuela won't be able to barely block. Stranger things have happened in football though.

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Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Venezuela: Lineups

Mano Manezes is going with an ambitious lineup, as promised, for the first match of Group B of the 2011 Copa America between Brazil and Venezuela. Despite only calling up four strikers to his team, Manezes is starting three of them up top in front of a playmaker and a couple of two-way midfielders. They shouldn't have too much of a problem dispatching of Venezuela, but of course, that's what we said about Argentina and Bolivia. Venezuela's best player is Rondon, a very dangerous striker who can hurt Brazil if he ever actually gets the ball. Here are the lineups.

Brazil lineup: Julio César; Daniel Alves, Lúcio, Thiago Silva, André Santos; Lucas Leiva, Ramires; Ganso; Robinho, Neymar, Pato

Venezuela lineup: Hernandez; Rosales, Vizcarrando, Perozo, Cichero; Rincon, Lucena; C Gonzalez, Miku, Arango; Rondon

The game kicks off at 3 pm ET from La Plata, in the same stadium where Argentina drew Bolivia on Friday. 

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Copa America 2011: Where To Watch Brazil Vs. Venezuela On TV And Streaming Live Online

The Copa America isn't the biggest international soccer competition, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, it's at least gaining some steam around the world.

The tournament features some of the best players in Europe competing for their countries, and thanks to Youtube, everyone interested in watching high-level soccer on a beautiful Sunday afternoon has a chance to live out those goals.

The match-up between Brazil and Venezuela is expected favor Brazil, if that wasn't already clear by reading SB Nation's preview on the first of two Sunday games in Copa America action. Still, considering how easy it is to watch -- and how little else is actually on television during the Fourth of July weekend -- there aren't a lot of excuses to miss one of the best soccer teams in the world do their thing against Venezuela.

The second Sunday game, by the way, features Ecuador and Paraguay at 6:15 Eastern Time. That's right, it's basically a soccer double-header!

Brazil vs. Venezuela

Time: 3:00 pm ET

Venue: Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Television: Univision (United States), ESPN (United Kingdom), EuroWorld Sport and The Score (Canada), Fox Sports Latin America (Mexico, Central and South America), Setanta Sports (Australia), SuperSport (Most of Africa)

Online: Youtube (United States and International)

Yes, you can watch the entire tournament on Youtube for free with both English and Spanish commentary options on the official Copa America Youtube channel.

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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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