Manager: Mano Menezes
Group: B (with Paraguay, Ecuador and Venezuela)
Copa America title betting odds: 37/20
Qualifying for quarter-finals odds: n/a
Group winner odds: 3/10
Finishing in the top two in group odds: 1/100
Copa America 2007 performance: Winners
Best Copa America performance: Winners (1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007)
How are they shaping up?
Where in the past Brazil have been able to call on a multitude of world-class attackers, the reigning Copa America champions go into the 2011 tournament without a stand-out threat in the final third of the field. Shorn of a Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Rivaldo, Brazil’s strength is in defence, with coach Mano Menezes able to choose from the likes of Lucio, Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, Maicon, Luisao and David Luiz to play in front of Julio Cesar.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the men in green and yellow have had difficulty finding the back of the net in recent matches, with just three goals scored in the last five. Conversely, Brazil recorded three clean sheets in a row coming into the tournament, highlighting how difficult they are likely to prove to break down.
If Brazil are to be successful, Menezes will need to keep the team’s defensive solidity while giving the likes of Robinho and Neymar greater licence to express themselves. In group B with Paraguay, Ecuador and Venezuela, odds on Brazil of 1/100 to finish in the top two suggest it is likely that they will be able to experiment early on without jeopardising their chances of participation in the knock-out stages. Odds of 3/10 are also available for Brazil to top the standings at the end of the group stage, with Paraguay, Ecuador and Venezuela unlikely to have enough in their lockers to trouble the five-time world champions.
Naymar Caps: 5 Goals: 3
With Kaka left out of the squad due to a combination of injury and bad form and Robinho erratic at best, Brazil have arrived at the tournament without a go-to man. However, the recent performances of 19-year-old Neymar have captured the imagination of the Brazilian public and a number of European clubs, with a big-money across the Atlantic seemingly in the pipeline. The youngster shone for Santos last season, scoring in the final of the Copa Libertadores in a display which suggests he reacts well to playing under pressure. The question will now be whether he can cope with the expectations of his nation and stand out on the international stage.
Navigation out of group B shouldn’t prove a problem and it is only in the latter stages of the tournament that Brazil are likely to be tested. While scoring goals has proved an issue of late, with such a solid base to build from second-favourites Brazil look good bets to clinch a third successive Copa America crown at odds of 37/20.