Venezuela’s team and coaching staff were wiped out by positive Covid-19 cases on the eve of the tournament, with 12 of their players and coaches testing positive just one day before the tournament’s opening game .
And the tournament hosts showed their dominance from the start. Everton forward Richarlison saw a first-half goal denied for offside and Neymar missed a good opportunity as Brazil failed to convert their dominance.
But Marquinhos’ 23rd-minute tuck goal from a corner put him on track, with Neymar scoring his 67th international goal – just 10 off Pelé’s record 77 goals for Brazil – from the penalty spot.
He also played a key role in the final goal, bypassing Venezuelan goalkeeper Joel Graterol before replacing Barbosa to complete the victory.
This gave the nine-time Copa América winners a perfect start for Group A, which also includes Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Colombia won their opener on Sunday night, beating Ecuador 1-0 thanks to a goal from Edwin Cardona.
The 47th edition of the Copa América was originally intended to be jointly organized by Argentina and Colombia, but the organizers decided to withdraw it first from Colombia, due to widespread social unrest in the country, and then also from ‘Argentina, due to a resurgence of the Covid. -19 pandemic.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came to the rescue, however, and boasted that the country would lead the tournament, despite widespread opposition and the country’s struggle to contain the pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization, the country has recorded more than 17 million confirmed cases and more than 480,000 deaths. Over 70 million doses of vaccine have been administered.
In addition to the Venezuelan players and officials who tested positive, four members of the Bolivian team have also tested positive for the coronavirus.
And now Argentinian and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has expressed concerns about the possibility of contracting the virus while with his national team.
Messi, whose Argentina side will face Chile in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, said fear of contracting the virus was rife in the squad.
“This worries us because it is a risk for everyone to catch Covid,” he told reporters. “We try to be careful but it’s not easy. These things happen.”
“We will try to do whatever we can so that no one gets it, but sometimes it is not just up to ourselves.”