It may only be the second round of World Cup qualifying, but already the pressure is mounting on five-time champion Brazil and particularly coach Dunga. A 2-0 defeat away at newly crowned South American champions Chile last Thursday hardly represented a disaster, but it was far from the start Dunga wanted after leading the team to a dismal quarterfinal exit at this summer’s Copa America. Failure at home to Venezuela on Tuesday will raise criticism to a whole new level, while, in the world’s most competitive qualifying format and ahead of a trip to Argentina next month, Brazil will already be in a sizable hole.
Further scrutiny will be directed toward the contest in Fortaleza thanks to it being Brazil’s first competitive match on home soil since the team’s dismal ending to the 2014 World Cup. And the scars of an infamous 7-1 humiliation by Germany in the semifinals have yet to be overcome.
“This isn't ours [the debt from the 7-1 defeat] but we are here and we'll pay it, and try to find a way to solve this,” Dunga said, reports Goal.com. “It's not easy, but not impossible for the quality players we have with us. When results don't arrive, it's normal to feel the pressure. For everything that has been happening on the world football, and in Brazil, Latin teams work with this pressure. We have the responsibility for what happened at the World Cup, and can't give ourselves up.”
On Tuesday, Brazil will also play their first game in five years without any of the influential trio of Neymar, David Luiz and Thiago Silva. Neymar, the team’s star talisman and captain, will serve the final match of his four-match suspension incurred for a sending off during the Copa America, while David Luiz, seen as a one of the squad’s true inspirational characters, was injured against Chile. Thiago Silva, meanwhile, having been first stripped of the captaincy under Dunga, has now been dropped from the squad entirely after giving away a penalty in Brazil’s defeat to Paraguay at the Copa America.
As well as bringing in Marquinhos for Luiz, Dunga is expected to make two other changes to his lineup at the Arena Castelao. Reports suggest that Atlético Madrid left-back Filipe Luis will replace his Real Madrid counterpart Marcelo, as well as Chelsea’s Oscar being dropped for Santos playmaker Lucas Lima.
It is not just Brazil that have put themselves under pressure with an opening loss. Venezuela suffered bitter disappointment last week when a defensive mishap cost them a late goal to go down 1-0 at home to Paraguay. After steady improvement that saw Venezuela finish just one place off a playoff berth in qualifying last time around, coach Noel Sanvicente faces a tough task to lead the country to its first World Cup.
The squad has been weakened considerably following the international retirement of all-time great Juan Arango, leaving much of the expectation to rest on West Brom striker Salomon Rondon. Still, Venezuela are set to have experienced defender Fernando Amorebieta available against Brazil.
The two sides last met in the group stage of this summer’s Copa America when Brazil won, 2-1, and claimed a quarterfinals berth.
Kickoff time: 9 p.m. EDT
TV channel: beIN Sports En Español
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