Brazil are in high spirits as they head to their quarter-final of the Copa America against Paraguay on Sunday with Argentina, considered by many to be their main rival for the trophy, already eliminated. The game is to be played in La Plata where the Brazilians tied Venezuela in their opening fixture after which there has been much talk about the poor state of the pitch. The teams have already met in the group stage in which they shared points after a crucial Fred strike earned a 2-2 draw for the Selecao.
The eight time champions exhibited some flair as demanded by fans and critics in the win against Ecuador in their last group game at Cordoba on Wednesday to top the group. The decision to include Maicon in the starting XI proved to be an inspired one with the Inter right-back enjoying a huge influence in the match. The surging runs of Maicon and Andre Santos created the much needed width while the deft touches of Paulo Henrique Ganso and the cool finishing of Neymar and Alexandre Pato did the rest.”When
Brazil’s whole rearguard still looks vulnerable, however, and needs to improve to keep the aerial threat of Roque Santa Cruz and Lucas Barrios at bay. Much will also depend on how Maicon tackles the impressive Marcelo Estigarribia, who troubled Dani Alves when last time they met. “The defence hasn’t been playing badly, we just allowed some goals because of mistakes, that happens in football, it’s normal,” Lucio said. Julio Cesar who conceded two sloppy goals in the last match was particularly self-critical. He said: “The second goal was a bit harder than the first, but in both strikes I chose the wrong technical resource and did not have time to make the save. There are things that I can improve.”
The Coach has not disclosed his final XI yet, and it is possible Chelsea centre-back David Luiz will replace Thiago Silva. The Milan defender injured his right thigh muscle and the medical team is observing his progression. If Silva is not fit to play then the Coach may also consider Luisao since the Benfica man has experience in partnering Lucio in the centre.
Both Paraguay and Brazil squandered the lead on more than two instances in the first round, and the Coach is aware a knockout fixture does not allow for such luxuries.”If our intention is to reach the semi-finals, then we must improve more,” Mano Menezes cautiously admitted. He added: “We will show [Paraguay] the same respect that we did in the first game.” Since Paraguay Coach Gerardo Martino will be aware of the attacking prowess of this Brazilian front line, a cagey affair is on the cards.