Venezuela Copa America preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player

sportsmole.co.uk, 11 June 2021, 13:00
Following two consecutive quarter-final defeats, Venezuela go into this summer's Copa America looking to go one better and progress further through the tournament.

A defeat to Argentina saw La Vinotinto crash out in 2019, and they have not gained form under new manager Jose Peseiro since then, with a disappointing run of results in their World Cup Qualifying group.

Following the resignation of Rafael Dudamel, who ushered a golden generation into the senior side, the national team turned to Jose Peseiro to improve the fortunes of a capable but underperforming squad, and they will look to prove themselves with a solid continental campaign.

GROUP

While there are no easy games in this group, Venezuela are not blessed with a comfortable start as they take on defending champions and five-time world champions Brazil in Brasilia.

The games do not get much easier after that either, as La Vinotinto take on a strong Colombia side who boast a place in the top 15 of the FIFA world rankings.

Arguably their most crucial matches come after that, as Venezuela square off against Ecuador and Peru, in games that will likely decide which two of the three sides progress through, if Brazil and Colombia cruise through as expected.

FIXTURES

June 13: Brazil vs. Venezuela (10pm BST, Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia)

June 17: Colombia vs. Venezuela (10pm BST, Estadio Olimpico Pedro Ludovico, Goiania)

June 20: Venezuela vs. Ecuador (10pm BST, Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro)

June 27: Venezuela vs. Peru (10pm BST, Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia)

RECENT FORM

Venezuela come into the Copa America on the back of a poor start to the World Cup Qualifying campaign, as they picked up just four points from their opening six matches.

They started the group with a 3-0 loss to Colombia and 1-0 defeats to Paraguay and Brazil, before Luis Mago and Salomon Rondon fired them to their only victory of the campaign so far, defeating Chile 2-1.

A disappointing 3-1 loss to minnows Bolivia then followed as Marcelo Martins netted a brace alongside a goal from Diego Bejarano goal to condemn Venezuela to their fourth defeat in five games.

However, Jose Peseiro's men did pick up a commendable point in their most recent outing prior to the Copa America, as they held 15-time Copa America champions Uruguay to a goalless draw.

They will now hope to build on that positive result with a strong group campaign in the Copa America, as they look to put the poor start behind them.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Wuilker Farinez (Lens), Rafael Romo (OH Leuven), Joel Graterol (America de Cali).

Defenders: Roberto Rosales (Leganes), Alexander Gonzalez (Malaga), Mikel Villanueva (Santa Clara), Jhon Chancellor (Brescia), Ronald Hernandez (Atlanta United), Luis Mago (Universidad de Chile), Nahuel Ferraresi (Moreirense), Adrian Martinez (Deportivo La Guaira), Yohan Cumana (Deportivo La Guaira).

Midfielders: Tomas Rincon (Torino), Yangel Herrera (Manchester City), Romulu Otero (Corinthians), Jhon Murillo (Tondela), Junior Moreno (DC United), Jefferson Savarino (Atletico Mineiro), Yeferson Soteldo (Toronto FC), Cristian Casseres (New York Red Bulls), Bernaldo Manzano (Deportivo Lara), Jose Martinez (Philadelphia Union), Richard Celis (Caracas), Edson Castillo (Caracas).

Forwards:

STAR PLAYER - Josef Martinez

In the absence of record scorer Salomon Rondon, attacking responsibility could fall on winger Josef Martinez.

The 28-year-old has featured 53 times for his country since debuting in 2011, netting an impressive tally of 11 goals on the international stage.

Despite a relatively slow start to the season for Atlanta United by his own standards, with two goals from the first seven games, Martinez has established himself as one of the elite goalscorers in the MLS.

While last season was heavily impacted by injuries, the winger was at his clinical best in the 2018/19 season, as he netted 27 goals and recorded three assists in 29 league appearances.

That included an eye-catching run as he found the net in 15 consecutive games, with only Lionel Messi scoring in more successive matches in world football.

Following an ACL tear last year, Martinez looks to be fully fit and is back playing a key role for the Atlanta outfit, and we see Venezuela relying heavily on his attacking threat in this tournament.

MANAGER - Jose Peseiro

After an underwhelming spell managing in Portugal, taking charge of Porto, Braga, Vitoria de Guimaraes and Sporting Lisbon for fewer than 100 games combined, alongside a short spell in United Arab Emirates with Sharjah, Jose Peseiro was appointed as Venezuela manager in February 2020.

This is his first trip into international management since the former Portuguese striker took charge of Saudi Arabia between 2009 and 2011, winning 12 and losing just seven of his 31 games in that job.

His tenure in the Venezuela hot seat has not started in the best possible manner though, having picked up just one win from his six games in charge.

That solitary victory came against Chile in World Cup Qualifying, which was followed by a disappointing 3-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Bolivia.

With four defeats from his first six games, Peseiro could see the Copa America as the perfect time for him to reverse their fortunes on the biggest stage with a strong run, or it could seal his fate if results continue to go against La Vinotinto.

COPA AMERICA RECORD

Best finish: Semi-finals (2011)

Venezuela by no means boast the most history in the Copa America, having not featured in the tournament until 1967, 61 years after the first edition of the South American continental competition.

They have been an ever-present since then though, reaching the final eight on six occasions including their first campaign in 1967.

Their best finish came in 2011, as Venezuela reached the semi-finals under Cesar Farias.

After topping their group without suffering a defeat, La Vinotinto narrowly defeated Chile in the quarter-finals thanks to Gabriel Cichero's 80th-minute winner.

However, they did not manage to reach the final for the first time in their history as Farias's men lost a penalty shootout to Paraguay after a goalless draw.

Peseiro will hope that he can be the first manager to guide Venezuela to a Copa America final after La Vinotinto came so close 10 years ago.

PREDICTION

In a tournament that could definitely go either way for Venezuela, we see them sneaking into fourth spot with a win over Peru.

While Peseiro has not turned his side's fortunes yet, this could present the perfect opportunity to get the most out of a strong crop of players and break into the final eight.

As a fourth-placed finish would draw them against the winners of group B, likely Argentina or Uruguay, we expect them to crash out at that stage after a commendable effort in the group.

VERDICT: Quarter-final

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