Brazil took care of business in their opening game against Bolivia though not to the extent that their supporters would have liked. Due to a sloppy start against their overmatched opponent the game was scoreless at halftime which resulted in the Brazil team being booed off the pitch as they made their way to the dressing room. Order was restored in the second half and Brazil would go on to a 3-0 win. Phillippe Coutinho scored two goals with Everton picking up the other marker. Coutinho was more diplomatic about the booing fans than most athletes would have been:
The fans want us to play well. We need to kind of shield ourselves and remain focused on the main goal. It’s important to be locked in in order to play well.”
This game is taking place in Salvador at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova where the Brazilian team is expecting a more enthusiastic and supportive crowd. Several players wrote off the poor opening half performance against Brazil to ‘nervousness’ which shouldn’t be as much of a factor here. At least it hopefully won’t be a factor here or else the Brazilian supporters might be in for a tough competition.
Brazilian coach Tite is reportedly on the ‘hot seat’ and needs a strong showing here to keep his job. That’s somewhat surprising since he was given a contract extension after Brazil’s unceremonious quarterfinal elimination from the World Cup last year but fans are getting impatient for the team to become more of a powerhouse internationally. The big question is simple: will anything ever be enough for Brazilian fans? The game has changed and there are extremely talented national teams from all over the world. The environment is significantly more competitive now than it has ever been and to expect Brazil to dominate as they once did is unrealistic.
It’s also difficult to understand the fans’ impatience with a team that has won 10 of 11 matches since the World Cup elimination. The most common explanation is that the fans aren’t happy with the ‘style’ of the team or the way in which they won. Take takes us full circle back to the previous paragraph and the unrealistic and unattainable wishes for the Brazil team in 21st Century international football. The fans simply want the team to dominate to a degree that is just no longer possible.
There’s every reason to think that Brazil will turn in a strong showing here against a Venezuelan team who has bigger problems than soccer. When your country is imploding from misguided and outdated socialist economic policies trivialities like football become less of a priority. Venezuela is something of an outlier in South America anyway since it is baseball and not soccer that is the sports passion of the nation. It’s not that the country lacks soccer talent as evidenced by their appearance in the U20 World Cup Finals in 2017. It’s just that they lack any type of developmental structure that allows them to get better.
Brazil has no excuse for coming out as tight as they did in the opening game against an opponent with only 1 win in their last 5 contests. Venezuela might not exactly be a doormat but they’re simply not in the competitive class of Brazil. No interest in laying the huge price with the Brazilians on the three way line so we’ll play the game through the total.