24 Jun 2024, 08:34

Dorival Junior searches for Brazil's balance ahead of Copa opener

 INGLEWOOD, United States, June 24, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Brazil coach Dorival Junior says his team have yet to find their balance but is hoping they can discover the right mix when their Copa America campaign kicks off against Costa Rica on Monday.

The 62-year-old coach took over the reigns of the 'Selecao' in January with the team having endured a poor start to World Cup qualification in South America.

"We need to find a balance, a regularity, for this team that was assembled three months ago and is now rediscovering itself," he told a news conference ahead of the team's opener in Group D.

Brazil have been unbeaten in the four friendly games under their new coach with wins over England and Mexico and draws against Spain and the United States.

But they have yet to gel as a team, showing fragility in defence and lacking control in midfield while at the same time having exciting attacking talent such as the Real Madrid pair of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo and Barcelona's Raphinha.

"We are still a team in formation, with some players who maybe didn't even imagine being here at this moment," said Dorival Junior, who opted not to call up experienced duo of Thiago Silva and Casemiro and also left out Premier League based forwards Richarlison and Gabriel Jesus.

But despite the relative inexperience of his players, the Brazil coach believes he has enough quality in his squad.

"They are prepared athletes, who play in great teams in Brazilian and world football. That's why I hope we will have a good tournament," he said.

There is a buzz around 17-year-old forward Endrick, who is set to join Real Madrid from Palmeiras after the Copa America, but he is expected to enter from the bench.

"Without balance on the pitch, we have to take a step back. He (Endrick) is aware of that and is calm (...) It might not be long (before he starts), because he is an extremely skilful player," said the Brazil coach.

Costa Rica, who have qualified for the last three World Cups, are going through a transition of their own but Brazil captain Danilo says they aren't to be under-estimated.

"Costa Rica is a team that perhaps defends very well, makes very quick transitions, has very vertical players. There are no easy teams in football," he said.

"We have a young group, with some of the players playing for the first time in the national team. It's time for us to change our faces a bit, reduce the smiles, the jokes, and focus on the competition," he said.

Group D also features Colombia and Paraguay who will meet in Houston on Monday.