CA 2011: Two Group B Matches, Zero Goals

If the first three days of Copa America have taught us anything it is that we have no idea what to expect. The tournament started with hosts Argentina having to scrap and claw for a draw against Bolivia. That was a shocker, no doubt, but the Argentinians are prone to head-scratching performances. Brazil? They're the sure thing. They're the dominant team in South America, having won four of the last five Copa Americas. On Sunday though, Brazil wasn't the sure thing as Venezuela stymied the Selecao attack to get a 0-0 draw in the opening match of Group B.

Brazil was utterly dominant in the first half and only Lady Luck kept Venezuela from going down multiple goals. Multiple times it looked as if the Brazilians had a clear crack at goal only to see the shot take a slight deflection and end up in the stands. Alexandre Pato ripped a shot that had the goalkeeper just watching in awe, but the shot rattled the crossbar and bounced away harmlessly.

Later on it looked like Robinho had tallied, in alone on the keeper and side-footing the ball seemingly for a goal, but Oswaldo Vizcarrondo came sliding in from out of nowhere to keep the ball out. Considering how dominant Brazil was in the first half it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before they scored in the second half. There would be one shot that wouldn't deflect wide of the goal. The crossbar wouldn't deny them. That wasn't the case though.

Yes, Brazil was the better team in the second half again, but they weren't nearly as dominating as they were in the first half. Venezuela remained organized at the back and Gabriel Chichero was especially good to clear away any danger. They didn't lose their shape when they went forward, cutting out some of the Brazil counter-attack as well. Neymar, who was poor in the first half was almost invisible in the second half. Robinho also disappeared in the second half before being substituted off and Pato spent far too much time battling the Venezuela defense single-handedly.

Meanwhile, Venezuela put a little but more oomph in their attack. They were cautious and picked their spots, but twice almost scored on crosses that just barely missed a streaking attacker. In the end, Brazil were forced into long balls to no one in particular. Venezuela may have been lucky to escape the first half unscathed, but they were solid in the second half and did their bit to earn a shocking 0-0 draw.

After Brazil and Venezuela played to a scoreless draw, Paraguay and Ecuador did the same in the Group B. Paraguay may have had the better of possession, but neither they nor Ecuador will claim to have played particularly well. In fact, the only standout player for either team was Marcelo Elizaga, who made a few fine saves to earn Ecuador a draw and put all four teams in Group B level with one point apiece.

Brazil will continue their Copa America on July 9 in Cordoba against Paraguay, while Venezuela will face Ecuador on the same day in Salta.

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