Manager: Cesar Farias
Group: B (with Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay)
Copa America title betting odds: 80/1
Qualifying for quarter-finals odds: 39/20
Group winner odds: 25/1
Finishing in the top two in group odds: 7/1
Copa America 2007 performance: Quarter-finals
Best Copa America performance: Fifth place (1967)
How are they shaping up?
Venezuela have traditionally been the whipping boys at the Copa America, but a strong showing in front of their own fans at the last tournament – when they topped a group containing Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay – signalled their arrival as serious opponents. They continued their development with a decent World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign, picking up 22 points in 18 games, including an away draw against Brazil, to finish ahead of both Peru and Bolivia in eighth place.
Their form in the build-up to the tournament has been mixed, with a 3-0 defeat against world and European champions Spain sandwiched by a 2-0 success against Guatemala and a 3-0 win over a youthful Mexico side. However, the bad news for ‘La Vinotinto’ is that they are in a particularly tough group, alongside Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador. Although they did beat Brazil for the first time ever in a friendly in Boston three years ago, the 16/1 betting odds on them to upset the defending champions in their opener are not likely to find much support.
On the positive side for football betting fans looking for some long-priced upsets, Venezuela can always be relied upon to make up for what they lack in skill with full-blooded commitment. They have a number of experienced players in their squad and certainly boast firepower in the shape of Juan Arango and Giancarlo Maldonado. When allied with exciting young talents such as midfielder Yohandry Orozco and Malaga front man Salomon Rondon, there is certainly a case for Venezuela being worth a couple of goals in Argentina at the very least.
Caps: 94 Goals: 18
A hugely gifted playmaker with a wand of a left foot, Arango was a permanent fixture for La Liga side Mallorca between 2004 and 2009, firing 45 goals in 183 league games in that time and becoming a big fans’ favourite.
The 31-year-old now plays for Borussia Monchengladbach, who struggled for large portions of last season and only just avoided relegation in a play-off against Bochum. And while Arango’s goals have largely dried up since his switch to the Bundesliga, he still possesses the technique and vision to unlock any defence on his day.
His delivery from set-pieces will also be crucial if Venezuela are to pinch a goal or two in their expected rearguard effort for the majority of their three group games.
Considering how far Venezuelan football has come in the past ten years, it is tempting to tip them to sneak into the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed teams. To do that, they would presumably have to beat Ecuador, who are famously unpredictable at the Copa America, and/or Paraguay.
This is certainly not out of the question, but the overriding feeling is that their run to the last eight on home soil four years ago represents the maximum they can hope to achieve in such star-studded company, for the foreseeable future at least.
Verdict: Eliminated at group stage
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