Brazil will kick off its Copa América title defense against Venezuela on Sunday under controversial circumstances in the tournament opener in Brasilia.
After Colombia and Argentina were removed as hosts, the tournament was moved to Brazil despite the country having the second-most recorded deaths from the coronavirus in the world (480,000). Matters took a turn for the worst when 12 members of the Venezuelan traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Wilker Ángel and Rolf Feltscher were the first Venezuela players to test positive on Thursday before it spread throughout the rest of the team. Venezuela was forced to bring in an emergency group of replacement players from the Venezuelan Primera Division in order to have enough players to face Brazil.
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Brazil XI: Alisson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Eder Militao, Renan Lodi; Casemiro, Fred; Lucas Paqueta, Neymar, Richarlison; Gabriel Jesus.
Venezuela XI: Graterol; Moreno, La Mantia, Aristeguieta, Jose Martinez, Mago, Gonzalez, Casseres, Manzano, Adrian Martinez.
Brazil has won each of its last six matches, including all five of its World Cup qualifiers after defeating Ecuador and Paraguay in 2–0 victories this week. In between the qualifiers, Brazil captain Casemiro previously said the team was against going forward with the Copa América due to the pandemic, but the team ultimately decided to play despite stating its grievances.
Venezuela was the only team to not lose to Brazil in the last Copa América in 2019 with its group-stage draw.