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Nov 14, 2020 at 12.30am UK
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Casseres Jr (20'), Machis (76'), Rincon (81')

Preview: Brazil vs. Venezuela - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's World Cup Qualifying - South America clash between Brazil and Venezuela, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Depleted Brazil, who currently lead the South American qualifiers for Qatar 2022 along with arch-rivals Argentina, take on Venezuela in Sao Paulo on Saturday.

Tite's team will be without injured star man Neymar, before the controversial Paris Saint-Germain player is expected to return for the game with Uruguay in Montevideo next week.

Match preview

Neymar in action for Brazil on September 10, 2019© Reuters

The long and winding road to Qatar 2022 continues in Sao Paulo on Friday, as Brazil aim for three wins out of three to start their qualifying campaign.

Coach Tite's growing injury list, however, includes talismanic forward Neymar, who injured his thigh while on Champions League duty with PSG.

Victories over Bolivia and Peru belatedly kicked off the lengthy process last month, when Neymar netted a hat-trick in the Selecao's 4-2 win in Lima.

That haul saw him surpass former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Ronaldo as Brazil's second highest scorer in their illustrious history - his current total of 64 goals now leaves him just 13 adrift of Pele's all-time record.

The recent addition of Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz alongside Casemiro has added much-needed balance and authority to the midfield, allowing Neymar and his left flank colleague Renan Lodi to concentrate on attack.

However, with both Neymar and Casemiro among several stars absent, former Corinthians boss Tite will have to improvise and adapt accordingly. Late call-ups have been issued to several players and some may be required to start.

Therefore, Venezuela's Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro - who somewhat surprisingly landed the job after a spate of quick sackings had blighted his CV - will seek to capitalise on his opponents' relative problems.

Brazil's Marquinhos in action with Venezuela's Salomon Rondon at the Copa America on June 18, 2019© Reuters

Peseiro will be reliant on ex-Newcastle United striker Salomon Rondon to be the sole focal point up front, in a setup primarily designed to sneak a goal on the counter-attack. The veteran forward wasn't allowed to travel last month due to restrictions in China, where he now plays for Dalian, and was sorely missed.

The pressure is on already, as - without a point or a goal as yet - Venezuela sit ninth of ten nations in the early qualifying standings. La Vinotinto - so named due to their burgundy-coloured shirts - would gladly take a point at Morumbi this weekend.

An away draw in Brazil is not without recent precedent though, as they achieved the rare feat during last year's Copa America - though the hosts did have three goals ruled out by VAR and utterly dominated possession. This time, talented goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez is again likely to have his gloves kept warm by the opposition attack.

Defeats to Colombia - losing 3-0 in Barranquilla - and at home to Paraguay last month have given one of the continent's traditionally poorer relations an uphill task to make it to the finals in 2022.

Against a talented Colombia side, Venezuela were ruthlessly exposed on the break, while the Paraguay encounter was a scrappy affair in which a penalty miss cost them their first point.

Peseiro was only appointed in the aftermath of Rafael Dudamel's messy public departure as coach earlier in the year and was something of an underwhelming choice for most Venezuelans, following in the footsteps of their long-time goalkeeping hero.

The ex-Sporting coach has it all to prove when the continental champions play host to his modest side and will be desperate to avoid another dispiriting defeat.

Brazil World Cup Qualifying - South America form: WW
Brazil form (all competitions): DDLWWW

Venezuela World Cup Qualifying - South America form: LL
Venezuela form (all competitions): DWWWLL

Team News

Brazil coach Tite celebrates after winning the Copa America on July 7, 2019© Reuters

Goalkeeper Alisson and forward Gabriel Jesus return to the Selecao setup after injury, but Neymar will miss out due to a thigh injury - the ex-Santos star hopes to be fit for the crunch clash with Uruguay in Montevideo next week.

Uncapped Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimaraes replaced Real Madrid's Casemiro, who became the fifth player to withdraw from coach Tite's original 23-man list after he tested positive for COVID-19, in the squad earlier this week.

Tite is also without Philippe Coutinho, Fabinho, Rodrigo Caio and Eder Militao from his initial squad. Coutinho, Fabinho and Caio are injured while - like Real teammate Casemiro - Militao is self-isolating in Spain.

Everton's Allan, Lucas Paqueta and Sevilla defender Diego Carlos were all called up as cover and their coach has subsequently confirmed starts for Allan, Everton Ribeiro and Gabriel Jesus.

Venezuela's star midfielder Yangel Herrera, of La Liga club Granada, is suspended for this game, but centre-forward Salomon Rondon - so central to Jose Peseiro's plans - returns after previously missing out due to travel restrictions from China. Darwin Machis, also currently at Granada, will provide his chief support.

Winger Adalberto Penaranda - on loan at CSKA Sofia from Watford - and forward Sergio Cordova are absent too, due to quarantine measures.

Brazil possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Renan Lodi; Douglas Luiz, Allan, Everton Ribeiro; Everton, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus

Venezuela possible starting lineup:
Farinez; Feltscher, Chancellor, Angel, Rosales; Otero, Moreno, Rincon, Casseres, Machis; Rondon

SM words green background

We say: Brazil 2-0 Venezuela

Brazil and Venezuela have met 26 times in their history - with the Selecao winning 21 of those and losing just two - and there is little chance of a Venezuela side at a low ebb making a dent in that record.

In Neymar's absence, Gabriel Jesus can continue his recent uplift in form at the expense of Peseiro's pointless side.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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