After Neymar’s sending off for aiming a headbutt at Colombia’s Jeison Murillo during Brazil’s 1-0 Copa America loss, head coach Dunga may call on former Manchester City and Real Madrid man Robinho to fill the void left by the talismanic Barcelona forward.
The 31-year-old is back with his first club Santos for a third time after never really fulfilling expectations in Europe – Robinho failed to bag more than 15 all-competition goals in any of his nine seasons on this side of the Atlantic, although he did win leagues in Italy and Spain.
However, Robinho’s strike rate with Santos isn’t far off one-in-two over his triptych of spells in Vila Belmiro, and the 96-cap maestro’s performance’s during his side’s successful Campeonato Paulista campaign convinced the returning Canarinho coach to include him in the Selecao for Chile.
Such a decision seems typical of Brazil in recent years, after the debacle of hopeless forwards Fred and Joe at last summer’s World Cup; remember, the last time Neymar missed a match at an international tournament, the proudest nation in world football lost 7-1 at home.
However, it’s a mystery why Dunga didn’t stick with Hulk, who played seven times at centre-forward for Zenit St Petersburg last year, scoring five of his 19 all-competition goals there and laying on an assist, according to WhoScored.com.
Instead, the former Fiorentina anchorman went with Robinho and 30-year-old Diego Tardelli, who spent the second half of last season occasionally turning out for Chinese side Shandong Luneng, as Neymar’s supporting acts.
With Venezuela up next, Brazil could be walking into another firestorm.
Salomon Rondon and co found a way past Colombia in their first Group C fixture, thanks to the Zeint man’s strike on the hour mark, and although they endured the double blow of losing 1-0 to Peru and centre-half Fernando Amorebieta getting sent off, Noel Sanvicente’s side should be buoyed by Brazil’s woes.
La Vinotinto beating the Canarinho for the second time in five clashes since 2008 doesn’t look a bad price at 23/4 (more than 11/2), while the double chance on Venezuela winning or drawing, which would be the third stalemate in a row between these two, looks almost safe at 13/10.
In the other Group C fixture, you can have meaty 22/1 odds on centre-half Murillo scoring the first goal for the second game on the spin when Colombia take on Peru, with all four teams in the mini-league left on three points apiece following the first two gameweeks.
Having also been sent off for his part in the Neymar fracas, Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca misses the match.