POOR, POOR BRAZIL
Posted: Jul 04, 2011
Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Venezuela in the Copa America on Sunday, making a similar lacklustre start as host nation and co-favourite Argentina two days earlier.
Venezuela, usually regarded as the weakest team in the South American confederation, packed the midfield in the Group B match to snuff out Brazil's attack. The five-time World Cup winners seldom played like an organized team, relying on the individual talents of stars Neymar and Robinho.
Players on both teams wore gloves, trying to fight off the near-freezing temperatures of the Argentine winter.
Argentina drew 1-1 on Friday in the tournament opener. Brazil has defeated Argentina in the last two finals and the two teams are widely expected to meet again in the July 24 final.
Just like Argentina, Brazil seldom looked like a real team. Venezuela worked harder than its opponent, keeping Brazil's chances to a minimum and relying an impressive goalkeeping performance from Renny Vega.
With Venezuela seemingly content to play for the draw, Brazil had several chances early in the match.
Brazil's best opportunity came when a sprawling Vega dived to stop a shot from the wing by Alexandre Pato in the 32nd minute.
Referee Raul Orozco waved away shouts for a penalty in the 39th when Venezuela defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, sliding just in front of the goal mouth, blocked a shot from Robinho with his shoulder.
Brazil's 19-year-old star, Neymar, seldom looked dangerous but his blistering attempt in the 13th minute was stopped by Vega. He then shot just wide of the far post in the 44th.
The second half followed a similar pattern with Brazil mounting a few attacks, always looking for a stunning individual effort to win the match.
Brazil plays its second group match on Saturday against Paraguay. Venezuela plays Ecuador the same day.
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