Preview: Colombia vs Venezuela- Will a depleted Venezuelan team be able to withstand Colombia's devastating attacking line?
After playing their Copa America 2021 opening fixtures, Colombia and Venezuela are set to face off and will kick-off matchday 2 in Goiania on Friday. ‘ Colombia’s Copa America campaign got off to a promising start with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador. The goal was scored with a brilliantly orchestrated free-kick fresh off the training ground.
Despite dominating the second half of the game, Ecuador were unable to capitalise on the several chances they generated and Colombia hung on for a narrow win. Colombia rested star striker Luis Muriel and did not even start his Atlanta teammate Duvan Zapata, but they still finished on the right side of the scoreboard. Los Cafeteros have now gone three games without defeat since Rueda took over as the manager.
Venezuela is already the underdog in this match, and the Covid-19 scenario in the Venezuelan dugout just makes matters worse. As a result of nearly twelve players and staff testing positive, numerous players were brought in as replacements.
The hosts, Brazil, crushed them 3-0 in their first encounter of the South American tournament. For Venezuela, this match was primarily about damage control, and they should be pleased that they only surrendered three goals despite the abundance of chances generated by their opponents.
A team full of inexperienced players, Venezuela would be looking forward to gaining some positives from their match-up against their neighbours.
Colombia’s Oscar Murillo and Yairo Moreno picked up injuries in the match against Ecuador and are doubtful for the match against Venezuela.
Colombia Probable Lineup: Ospina; Munoz, Mina, Sanchez, Tesillo; Cuadrado, Barrios, Uribe, Cardona; Muriel, Zapata
On Saturday, eight Venezuelan players tested positive for COVID-19 including their captain, Tomas Rincon, prior to their match against Brazil. As a result, 15 replacements were called in.
New Venezuelan players called include goalkeepers Yhonatann Yustiz, Giancarlo Schiavone and Luis Romero; defenders Eduardo Ferreira, Diego Osorio and Francisco La Mantía; midfielders Leonardo Flores, Christian Rivas, Christian Larotonda and Abraham Bahachille; and forwards Richard Figueroa, Daniel Pérez, Eric Ramírez, Robinson Flores and Jan Hurtado.
There are no injury concerns for Venezuela.
Venezuela Probable Lineup: Graterol; Gonzalez, La Mantia, A.Martinez, Mago, Cumana; J.Martinez, Moreno, Manzano, Casseres Jr., Aristeguieta
Luis Muriel is a versatile attacker who can operate in any position up front, whether as a supporting forward or as a lone striker. The Atalanta man aided his club, along with Zapata, to a third-place finish in the Italian top-flight. In 36 Serie A outings, he only started 16 of them, yet he still managed to score an impressive 22 goals and assist 9 despite his limited playing time.
The 30-year-old is an excellent dribbler and playmaker with a strong right foot and a knack for long-range strikes. Muriel has outstanding positional awareness and is well-known for his movements in the opposition penalty box.
With all of Venezuela’s key players missing, all eyes will be on the youngster Cristian Casseres Jr. The New York Red Bulls midfielder is mostly a centre midfielder, although he can also operate on the flanks as he did in Venezuela’s match against Brazil.
You simply cannot hit it any better than this. Take a bow, @ccasseres23! pic.twitter.com/NRJr4bsSTO
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) May 29, 2021
His evolution has been fascinating, making him an all-around midfielder. He used to be a 10, a playmaker between the lines, but to that, he has added an increased involvement in build-ups. He drops deep and his press resistance, shielding of the ball and dribbling unlocks defences from the back. Casseres Jr. has the potential to be a game-changer for a depleted Venezuelan team.
Both teams would have been intriguing to see compete at full strength, but with important players missing from Venezuela, Colombia has the upper hand entering this Copa America encounter.
FootTheBall predicts Colombia 2-0 Venezuela