Brazil v Costa Rica: Endrick 'confident' of making Copa America impact

By Sports Desk June 23, 2024

Endrick is confident he can help Brazil claim a 10th Copa America title as he prepares for his first international tournament with the Selecao Canarinho. 

Brazil kickstart their campaign at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Monday against Costa Rica. 

Dorival Junior's side will also face Paraguay and Colombia in Group E, hopeful of going one better this time around having lost to Argentina in the 2021 final. 

The 17-year-old, who officially joins Real Madrid next month, has scored three goals in his last four games for Brazil but knows he will have to remain patient for his opportunity at the Copa America. 

"Only God knows [when I will start]," Endrick said. I am very grateful to have Abel [Ferreira] as a coach, he knew when to play me.

"Everything is up to God and Dorival Junior, the professor. He is a spectacular coach. He is doing what is best for the Brazilian team.

"I have always been very precocious in my life and since I became a professional I have played against opponents who have always teased me, insulted me, talked about my family, my girlfriend.

"But I got used to it quickly because I was 16. I'm calm, and I hope I can help. I think it's right, in football you have to destabilise the other player.

"It's been like that since I arrived, so I've adapted, and I'm very confident that I can help the team."

For Costa Rica Gustavo Alfaro, he has experience at the Copa America having guided Ecuador to the quarter-finals of the previous tournament in 2021.

The 61-year-old also took them to the following year's World Cup, where they opened with a 2-0 win against hosts Qatar before drawing 1-1 with the Netherlands, but failed to reach the knockouts after losing 2-1 to Senegal in their final group game.

However, Alfaro faces a different proposition with Los Ticos. Costa Rica have failed to make it beyond the group stages in each of the last two appearances; they last did so in 2004, but their recent form holds reason for optimism. 

Costa Rica have won four of their previous six international fixtures, losing only once over that stretch (3-1 to Argentina). They have also not conceded in any of their last three competitive fixtures, winning 15 of their previous 16 encounters when scoring the opening goal.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil - Vinicius Junior 

Vinicius Junior played a starring role in Real Madrid's LaLiga and Champions League successes in 2023-24, and claiming a first international honour with his nation would surely put the 23-year-old in pole position to scoop the Ballon d'Or. 

The Los Blancos star had 35 goal involvements (24 goals and 11 assists) in 39 appearances in all competitions for the Spanish side, his second-best campaign since his move to Madrid in 2021-22 (22 goals and 20 assists). 

 

Costa Rica - Manfred Ugalde

Having failed to score for his new side, Spartak Moscow, after his move from FC Twente in January, Ugalde rediscovered his goal-scoring touch at the opportune moment heading into the tournament. 

The 22-year-old striker grabbed a goal and three assists in Costa Rica's CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis, and will be hoping to continue that form in Inglewood against Brazil. 

MATCH PREDICTION: BRAZIL WIN

Brazil and Costa Rica have faced each other twice in the Copa America, with both victories for the Brazilian team in 1997 (5-0) at the Estadio Ramon Tahuichi Aguilera and in 2004 (4-1) with Adriano scoring a hat-trick for Carlos Alberto Parreira's side. 

The Selecao Canarinho have won 10 of their 11 meetings against their opponents, with their last defeat coming in the Panamerican Championship in March 1960 (3-0), with Brazil backed to continue their nine-game unbeaten run. 

Costa Rica will look to continue their impressive record against CONMEBOL teams at the Copa America, having lost one of their last four matches against them (W2 D1).

Gustavo Alfaro's side will seek to string together victories for the first time against CONMEBOL opponents in the competition, having defeated Colombia 3-2 in the 2016 edition.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Brazil - 71%

Costa Rica - 16.1%

Draw - 12.9%

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    Martinez's extra-time strike secured Argentina's record 16th triumph in the finals, moving them ahead of Uruguay as the most successful team in the competition. 

    His five goals for La Albiceleste secured him the tournament's Golden Boot, equalling the most scored by an Argentine player in a single edition of the Copa America in the 21st century, going level with Lionel Messi in 2016 and Juan Roman Riquelme in 2007.

    Despite Colombia's defeat, James had yet another outstanding international tournament having previously starred for Los Cafeteros at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

    James received the tournament's Best Player award, having produced six assists in Colombia's run to the final, surpassing Messi's previous record (five) achieved during Argentina's 2021 success. 

    Emiliano Martinez claimed his third consecutive Golden Glove at a major tournament, having kept five clean sheets at the 2024 Copa America. 

    Argentina conceded just once in their quarter-final against Ecuador and needed penalties to advance to the semi-finals with Martinez saving the first two spot-kicks. 

    Among the teams that have played at least five matches in an edition of the tournament, only four teams have conceded fewer than two goals – Argentina in 2024 (one), Colombia in 2001 (zero), Brazil in 1989 (one) and 2019 (one).

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    With a little over an hour played in Miami, where he is tearing through MLS sides on a weekly basis, the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner was in tears as he trudged off with an apparent ankle injury.

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    He had not been substituted in a Copa America match since July 2007, also in a meeting with Colombia, but needs must.

    If this was, as expected, his farewell appearance in the competition, he goes out a two-time champion and with 14 goals to his name, three short of the tournament's record scorers.

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    His goals came from just 221 minutes of action, and he started just two of Argentina's six matches.

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    Like Martinez in an international shirt, those governing bodies must up their games. 

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    Lautaro Martinez's fifth goal of the tournament secured Lionel Scaloni's side a record 16th title to move ahead of Uruguay as the most successful team in the competition. 

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