Led by newly minted captain Neymar, Brazil takes on Honduras in its last warm-up prior to the start of the Copa America Wednesday night at Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The 23-year-old Barcelona star is riding high after helping the Spanish Primera said capture a treble, and now makes his return to La Selecao after his teammates won a ninth consecutive friendly earlier this week over Mexico. Brazil has yet to lose after its disastrous let down at the World Cup. With Neymar gaining vast experience, this team could be poised for some more silverware in Chile over the next few weeks.
Though Brazil is largely expected to enter Copa America with another victory over Honduras, new manager Dunga believes Neymar’s appointment to captain represents a new and necessary challenge for a player that racked up 39 goals throughout Barcelona’s campaign.
“It is not a surprise, but the statistics are there to show that when Neymar puts on the captain's armband, he takes a step forward,” Dunga said back in March according to Daily Mail. “He is a player who likes challenges. The more responsibility he has, the more he will develop. He is making history in European football.
“’We are on the right track, though we haven't got anywhere as yet. We must improve day by day individually and collectively.”
Neymar’s joined by Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and forward Diego Tardelli, both of whom scored in the 2-0 victory over Mexico. It proved to be the 22-year-old Coutinho’s first international goal and only the third for Tardelli. Their performances certainly help with Oscar sidelined due to injury and Luiz Gustavo recently undergoing knee surgery.
"All players in this group should be ready to play," Dunga said to reporters. "Obviously I can only choose 11 players, but there are always injuries and cards so those on the bench must be ready for this.
"So it was good to see Coutinho playing the 90 minutes. It was his first time with the same structure of the team and his performance improved.
On the other side of the pitch, Honduras enter the matchup following a 2-2 friendly result with Paraguay. Forward Rubilio Castillo also notched his first goal and fifth cap of his international career, and Los Catrachos benefitted from an own goal to keep their streak without a loss alive at three straight.
Castillo’s development, as well as the rest of Honduras’ young batch of forwards like Anthony Lozana, 22 and Eddie Hernandez, 24, could present a challenge to Brazil. Jorge Luis Pinto's squad enter the match with an interest in gaining momentum prior to the Gold Cup, which begins on July 7 in the U.S. and Canada.
Honduras and Brazil have met six times. Brazil have dominated with a 4-1-1 record, and have outscored Honduras, 21-6.
Kickoff Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: beIN Sport
Live Online: A live stream is available beIN Sports Connect
Prediction: Brazil over Honduras, 4-1