Away from the glare of the European Championship qualifying campaign, there are a host of international friendlies taking place across the globe, with the likes of Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay all in action. The South American sides are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers, which start next month in that part of the world, and they each have warm-up games in the small hours of Wednesday morning this week.
Brazil travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA side, after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Costa Rica at the weekend; Colombia face Peru in a repeat of the Copa America group match in June, which ended 0-0; and Uruguay pay a visit to Costa Rica after a friendly win over Panama on Saturday. There are reasons to back each of the ‘big’ teams, and Brazil stand out as the best bet of the night.
USA v Brazil
Brazil beat Costa Rica 1-0 at the weekend courtesy of a Hulk goal after 10 minutes, but they were far from their best and failed to add to the tally over the subsequent 80 minutes. Neymar was not risked as a starter after suffering a string of niggling injuries during pre-season, but he came on for the last eight minutes or so, and is expected to earn a starting berth against the USA.
Coach Dunga used an experimental side in the Costa Rica game, and despite limiting their opponents to zero shots on target, they weren’t able to get into their stride for the rest of the match. Brazil started both halves well, coming out of the blocks quickly before fading as time wore on, but they should strip fitter for the USA clash, and with Neymar back, they have their talisman back at the centre of things.
USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann also experimented with a much-changed side in the friendly win over Peru, with Tim Ream, Michael Orozco, and Geoff Cameron all given time on the pitch in preparation for the Confederations Cup play-off with Mexico in October. They ran out 2-1 winners over Peru, with Jozy Altidore scoring a second half brace to cancel out Peru’s first-half opener.
Brazil have beaten the USA in each of the last five meetings however, and with Neymar back in the fold they are a decent price at -118 with William Hill to do so again.
Colombia v Peru
Colombia are another side worth an interest in the small hours of Wednesday morning, when they welcome Peru to Barranquilla. It will be Jose Pekerman’s first match in charge of the national side since their Copa America defeat to Argentina, and it will be a new-look side with several first team regulars missing. The likes of Falcao and Cuadrado are not in the squad, but forwards Jackson Martinez and Carlos Bacca will hope to cement their places in the team before the two sides meet again in World Cup qualification in October.
Peru performed exceptionally well in the Copa America in Chile, reaching the semi-finals before going out to the hosts, and beating Paraguay in the play-off to secure third place. They also held Colombia to a 0-0 draw in the group stages of the competition, but they haven’t beaten them since a World Cup qualifier in 2001.
Colombia were a revelation at the World Cup in Brazil, earning many admirers for their attacking style and swagger, but the Copa America was a huge disappointment. They were shocked by Venezuela in the opening match, before surprising Brazil next time around. The goalless draw with Peru saw them limp into the knockout stages, where they were dispatched on penalties by Argentina. They will be looking to bounce back and get on the winning trail before World Cup qualification begins in earnest, and can use home advantage to overcome Peru.
Colombia are -150 with William Hill to win the match, and should take all the beating.
Costa Rica v Uruguay
One other game which looks interesting is the clash between Costa Rica and Uruguay in San Jose. The side that English and Italian fans will know so well from their inspired performances in the World Cup, have failed to reach the heights since Brazil, and can be taken on with a scratch Uruguay side at a big price.
Costa Rica are yet to win a game in 2015, a run that covers 10 games – six draws and four defeats. Former coach Paulo Wanchope left his post after a touchline altercation in the recent Olympic qualifier with Panama, and new boss Oscar Ramirez watched his side fail to produce a single shot on target in his first game against Brazil at the weekend. Uruguay may prove to be lesser opposition, but they are still a very strong side despite some notable absentees.
Both Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are banned from competitive action, and coach Tarabez has called for patience from the fans while they are without their two star strikers. However, Middlesborough forward Stuani has taken up the mantle, and scored the only goal of the game as Uruguay beat Panama in a friendly at the weekend.
Uruguay are a fair price at +160 with William Hill, and they’re worth a punt to overcome a side out of form.
The last match between the two ended in a 3-3 draw, and Costa Rica went on to win 7-6 on penalties, but that was out of the ordinary for a Uruguay side who are usually incredibly strong at the back. In fact, four of Uruguay’s last five games have ended 1-0, and they are solid enough to keep a clean sheet here and hit Costa Rica on the break.
Brazil to beat USA
Wednesday 9th September 01:00 GMT
Colombia to beat Peru
Wednesday 9th September 01:00 GMT
Uruguay to beat Costa Rica
Wednesday 9th September 03:00 GMT
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