Top meets bottom in Thursday’s CONMEBOL World Cup 2022 Qualifying battle, as Venezuela welcome Brazil to the Estadio Olimpico de la UCV.
The hosts are rooted to the bottom of the pile having taken just four points from their opening nine games, while Brazil are sitting pretty at the top with eight wins out of eight.
Venezuela’s bid for a first-ever World Cup Finals appearance is seemingly dead in the water already, as the world’s 49th-ranked nation just cannot get one over their continental neighbours no matter what they try.
Leo Gonzalez’s side can only boast one win from their nine qualification matches so far – a 2-1 success over Chile in November 2020 – but each of their three games last month against Argentina, Peru and Paraguay ended in defeat.
Against the latter, Brescia centre-back Jhon Chancellor scored in the dying embers – only Venezuela’s fifth goal of Qualifying – but by that point it was too late to inspire a comeback as goals from Kaku and David Martinez saw Paraguay march to a 2-1 win.
The hosts’ measly record of one win, one draw and seven losses sees them sit in 10th place in the standings – nine points adrift of the top five – and it would take nothing short of a miracle for Venezuela to book their tickets to Qatar now.
Gonzalez only took the reins at Venezuela in August but has been handed a baptism of fire with three successive defeats, and any hopes of the 49-year-old ending his side’s nine-game winless streak across all competitions seem slim to none against a rampant Brazil.
While the quarantine fiasco during their clash with Argentina may have made all the headlines last month, Brazil did the business during their other two World Cup qualifying fixtures to cement their position atop the rankings.
Either side of their short-lived clash with the Copa America champions, Brazil scraped a 1-0 win over Chile before putting two unanswered goals past Peru, with Everton Ribeiro and Neymar both netting before the half-time whistle.
With a perfect tally of eight wins from eight games, Tite’s side are sitting pretty at the top of the pile – six points clear of second-placed Argentina – and their streak of appearing in every World Cup Finals since the tournament’s inception was never in doubt.
Furthermore, the Selecao’s staunch rearguard have now gone six World Cup Qualifying games without conceding a goal – shipping a mere two across their eight matches so far – while 19 goals at the correct end of the pitch is unsurprisingly the most out of any South American nation.
However, Brazil had to rely on Roberto Firmino to bail them out of trouble during a 1-0 win over Venezuela earlier in Qualifying, but they have won five of their last six against their upcoming opponents and have lost just once in 27 meetings with the hosts.
Venezuela World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Venezuela form (all competitions):
Brazil World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Brazil form (all competitions):
We say: Venezuela 0-2 Brazil
Even if Tite does decide to field a more inexperienced lineup against the group’s basement side, Brazil should still have far too much firepower and ought to claim a straightforward three points against their struggling opponents, who are unlikely to experience any joy in front of goal against the Selecao’s resilient backline either.