Brazil travel to Merida to meet Venezuela on Tuesday for the 10th round of CONMEBOL World Cup qualification for Russia 2018.
Three consecutive victories under new coach Tite leaves the five-time world champions second in the continent’s 10-team group with 18 points, just one point off top spot.
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And with leaders Uruguay facing a tricky trip to Colombia, Tite’s Selecao will be hoping to end the international break on top of the group.
To do so they will likely need to complete a double over Venezuela, who were seen off 3-1 on Matchday 2 thanks to a starring performance from Willian in Fortaleza.
At the time it was a vital win for former coach Dunga, whose side had opened the campaign with a humbling 2-0 defeat to Chile.
That night Brazil lined up: Alisson, Miranda, Marquinhos, Filipe Luis, Daniel Alves, Luiz Gustavo, Elias, Oscar, Willian, Douglas Costa and Ricardo Oliveira. From that starting line-up only six players will start for Tite on Tuesday.
Dunga’s side came into the contest under real pressure as local fans and media became increasingly frustrated by performances following a shock Copa America second-round exit to Paraguay months earlier.
Willian eased tensions that night by opening the scoring in the first minute, then doubling Brazil’s lead three minutes before the break. Christian Santos pulled one back for the visitors but veteran striker Ricardo Oliveria confirmed all three points for Brazil with fifteen minutes remaining.
Historically, Venezuela have never truly complicated life for Brazil. In 23 previous meetings the Selecao have secured 20 victories and lost just once, in a 2008 friendly match in USA that saw then coach Dunga field the following XI: Doni, Daniel Alves, Henrique, Luisao, Gilberto, Gilberto Silva, Elano, Anderson, Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Adriano.
The two sides first met on August 10, 1969 in Caracas during qualification for World Cup 1970, which Brazil would win in historic style.
Less than 12 months before the World Cup in Mexico, Brazil ran riot, winning 5-0 with a hat-trick from Tostao and two from Pele. It was the first of 16 meetings in World Cup qualifying, of which Brazil have won 15.
The Selecao have found the net on no less than 87 previous occasions against La Vinotinto, conceding just eight. Culturally closer to the Caribbean than the rest of South America, Venezuela were a very late developer in football relative to the rest of the continent and it took them 20 years to first find the net against Brazil – that goal arrived during a 3-1 Brazil win at Copa America 1989.
Football in the country has come a long way since then, however, with Venezuela one of the sides who have seen a remarkable upturn in their fortunes since Conmebol introduced the current qualification format ahead of World Cup 1998.
Last month they were just seven minutes away from a second consecutive home victory over the mighty Argentina.
Brazil are without Casemiro and Marcelo (injured) and also Neymar, who is suspended and will be replaced by Willian. Paulinho is expected return to a side that will feature Fernandinho and a new captain in Filipe Luis.
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