Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica: Wasteful Selecao frustrated in Copa America opener

By Sports Desk June 24, 2024

Brazil began their Copa America campaign with a frustrating goalless draw against Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium.

The Selecao dominated large periods of the Group D clash. Marquinhos saw a goal ruled out following a VAR review, while Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork from distance.

Yet despite enjoying just under three-quarters of the possession and registering 19 shots to their opponents' two, they could not find the breakthrough and failed to win their opening match in the competition for the first time since 2016.

Dorival Junior's side subsequently lost early ground on Group D leaders Colombia, who beat Paraguay 2-1 earlier in the day.

Brazil quickly asserted their authority on proceedings in California as they sought the game's opening goal.

Rodrygo steered a shot wide following a jinking run into the penalty area, while Raphinha was denied by Patrick Sequeira after latching onto a diagonal ball over the top of the Costa Rica defence.

The Selecao thought they had broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Marquinhos applied the finishing touch after Rodrygo glanced Raphinha's free-kick towards the far post, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review. 

Rodrygo fired narrowly over in first-half stoppage time and, then on 63 minutes, Lucas Paqueta saw his ferocious 25-yard drive crash against Sequeira's left upright.

Dorival withdrew the quiet Vinicius Junior in favour of Endrick and Savinho for the final 20 minutes, and both looked dangerous upon their introductions.

The latter's cross almost saw Costa Rica defender Haxzel Quiros head into his own net with his blushes spared by Sequeira, who then beat away Guilherme Arana's fierce volley.

Savinho was involved again in stoppage time as he teed up one final opportunity for Bruno Guimaraes, who bent his first-time shot narrowly wide to compound a frustrating start to the tournament for the nine-time winners.

Selecao stutter on return to States

It is fair to say Brazil do not boost particularly fond recent memories of playing in the United States in recent years.

After all, the Selecao crashed out in the group stages when the Copa America was last held in this nation eight years ago.

Neymar, who was part of that side, watched on from the stands having been ruled out of this tournament through injury.

Try as they may, his team-mates just could not break down their opponents and turn their dominance into the elusive goal, with just three of their 19 attempts on target.

Fresh from playing a starring role in Real Madrid’s LaLiga and Champions League double, Vinicius Junior was unable to inspire his nation – his tallies of 45 touches and 23 passes were the lowest recorded by any of Brazil’s outfield starters.

On a brighter note, Marquinhos made his 16th Copa America appearance – with only Dani Alves (19) and Thiago Silva (18) playing more times for the Selecao in the competition since 2000 – though a VAR review prevented him from marking the occasion with a goal.

Another clean sheet for repellent Costa Rica

Costa Rica were heavy underdogs on their return to the Copa America for the first time in eight years.

Not since 2004 have Los Ticos progressed from the group stages of this competition, but they certainly know what it takes to claim a scalp on the big stage.

Exactly 10 years ago, they beat Uruguay and Italy to top Group D, which also featured England, on the way to reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

Fast forward a decade and Joel Campbell, who was part of that side, came off the bench for his 140th cap as his nation halted a run of nine successive defeats by Brazil. 

More impressively, Costa Rica have kept clean sheets in each of their last four competitive games.

Their failure to record a single shot on target for the first time in a Copa America match since 2011 will be a slight concern, but that defensive stubbornness will stand them in good stead as they look to progress in this tournament.

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