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Third bite at Copa cherry for Brazil
Published : 13 Jul 2011 22:00:11
After two false starts Brazil are out to ensure it is a case of third time lucky at the Copa America as they target the win they need over Ecuador to reach the quarter-finals.
Draws with Venezuela and then Paraguay, where substitute Fred rescued a last-ditch point, have left the five-times world and eight-times continental champions chasing the Venezuelans in their group.
Whereas the minnows have qualified after seeing off the Ecuadorians in their second game, Brazil's failure to conjure their customary magic so far means they have hard work ahead of them on Wednesday in Cordoba.
By the time the auriverde take to the field they will know the outcome of the Paraguayans' encounter with Venezuela in Salta, which kicks off two hours earlier.
A draw for the Brazilians and a Paraguayan win over Venezuela could dump out Mano Menezes' side although his budding samba stars insist that they will now seek to bring on the jogo bonito that the world associates with them.
"Everyone has to give it their all and show why they are in the Brazilian team," skipper and defender Lucio told reporters at the team hotel.
Lucio added Brazil had to "get serious and take responsibility" for ensuring they up their game.
The auriverde, on a hattrick of Copa titles, at least no longer have to suffer unflattering comparisons with their women's side after the latter's World Cup exit on penalties at the hands of the USA.
But they are fast running out of excuses for their poor form in Argentina and Menezes says they have to open up and play their game.
"We will play to win - that's what we need and that's what we'll go all out for," Menezes insists, while continuing to stress that he is primarily moulding a team for the 2014 World Cup on home soil - the first time Brazil will play hosts since 1950.
As is the fate of all Brazilian coaches across the generations, Menezes is under enormous pressure to satisfy his nation's craving for success
"If we don't win the Copa America they will say it is a failure as football is like that (but) Brazil has a team which is a blend of youth and experience and we are preparing it for 2014," he insisted.
"Anyway, we shall get through" to the quarter-finals, he forecast. "The players know how to deal with pressure."
Asked to comment on the performances of Santos star Neymar, who was expected to use the event as a platform to show he is his country's new nascent superstar but who has not yet found his feet, Menezes said: "He has a lot of promise. But it's the first time for him at a major event.
"He has to learn to find space and to look up and pass to a teammate. He is still full of quality and he has shown that with Santos" he added in reference to his performances in helping his club win the Copa Libertadores.