The 2019 Copa America starts tonight, as hosts Brazil go head to head with Bolivia at the Estadio do Morumbi in Sao Paulo.
Brazil will host the 46th edition of the oldest international continental football tournament – the South American Championship.
They face Bolivia in the opening game of the 2019 Copa America tonight at 02:30 (CET) in Sao Paulo. The Selecao are the third most successful side in the tournament with eight titles, last winning it back in 2007 in Venezuela.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 14, 2019
Bolivia, South American Champions from 1963, will be looking to finish in second place in Group A and qualify for the knockout stage for only the second time in the 21st century.
La Verde has a tough job at the start of the tournament, facing the hosts and one of the favorites to win the competition, Brazil at the Estadio do Morumbi this evening.
The Selecao will be without Neymar for a second successive Copa America tournament, as the 27-year old forward picked up an injury against Qatar which ruled him out from the South American Championship.
Willian replaced Neymar in Brazil’s squad, while Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino are expected to lead the Selecao’s attack in the opener.
Barcelona midfielder will start on the bench as a precaution, after being forced off with a knee problem in the friendly against Honduras last Sunday.
There are only three players in the Bolivian squad who are not playing in the domestic Championship, with Marcelo Martins being the only one representing a club out of outside South or Central America.
What did the managers say
Brazil head coach Tite said Brazil has to forget about Neymar’s injury and prepare for the upcoming Copa America in the best way possible.
“There’s more talk about Neymar [in the media] than there is talk about him within the squad,” he said via Goal.
“Within the squad, we are focused on our preparations. I would never want to be in this situation of playing without Neymar, a top-three player in the world, but we have to be prepared.”
Bolivia boss Eduardo Villegas believes his players can neutralize Brazil’s game and surprise the big favorites tonight.
“We are going to arrive in the best way possible, we have had enough time to work, we have had friendly matches to correct our mistakes and even improve the things we did right,” he said via Noticias extra.
Amanhã é dia de estreia!
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) June 13, 2019
“We believe we can neutralize Brazil’s football. No team is invulnerable, no team is invincible, that is clear and proved in many parts of the world, in every league, in the South American Cups, and at the World Cups.”
Brazil and Bolivia met 29 times in history, with the Selecao winning 20 games and noting four draws against their opponent in the 2019 Copa America opener.
Bolivia’s most recent win against Brazil came in a World Cup qualifier in 2009, but they have never won an away game against the Green and Yellows.
The Selecao have won the Copa America in each of the four times they hosted the competition.
They have won eight South American Championships, but failed to even reach the semi-finals in the last three editions, being eliminated in the group stage of the Copa America Centenario in 2016.
La Verde reached the Copa America final for the last time back in 1997 on home soil, where suffered a 3-1 defeat to tonight’s opponents – Brazil.