Brazil head coach Carlos Dunga is in his second stint with the national team, but the task this time is to restore confidence after Brazil’s soul destroying departure from last year’s World Cup. To that end, a Copa America would go a long way.
Of course, the headlines will tell you how Neymar’s absence – due to a red card received while playing Colombia – is going to affect the team. Brazil won 2-1 against Venezuela in their last game before Neymar’s suspension kicks in, highlighting how hard it will be to win the tournament without him.
Paraguay will be delighted with finishing second ahead of Uruguay in Group B, but that success had earned them an extremely tough quarter-final matchup against Brazil. But they do have experience of top-class competition after drawing 2-2 versus Argentina in their opening match.
Dunga will have a couple of options for replacing Neymar on the left side of his 4-2-3-1 formation. Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is not highly favoured by Dunga, so that could mean an appearance from Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino, who has scored four time in nine international appearances.
Neymar is the only bona fide star in the current Brazilian generation, which makes replacing him a relative impossibility. However, Dunga will hope that Firmino can fill in and take the Brazilians as far as they can go. Beating Paraguay is still a reachable aim.
Paraguay’s squad is not filled with many familiar names. Roque Santa Cruz used to play for Bayern Munich, but that last happened in 2005 before his first-team career came to an end.
Santa Cruz does have more than 100 caps and 30 goals, but the 33-year-old is past it. Lucas Barrios is a much more appealing option, yet has started just one game and played part of another despite scoring two goals in the Copa America. Paraguay need to roll with the Palmeiras forward to improve their attacking fortunes.
Tip one: Draw @ 3.60
Tip two: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.57
This is the sort of game where the favourites could struggle. That possibility becomes particularly enticing thanks to odds of 3.60 on a draw in 90 minutes.