Brazil looking beyond Copa test
Reigning champions Brazil will be looking beyond next month's Copa America to the FIFA World Cup™ they will host in 2014, coach Mano Menezes admitted Monday.
The Brazilians will use the Copa as a springboard to what they hope will be a sixth world crown, but the latter tournament will be the clear priority even though they hope to put one over rivals Argentina, who host the continental showpiece from 1 July.
"We are going to use all the opportunities (afforded by their Copa schedule) to prepare ourselves well for the World Cup," Menezes told reporters in Rio as the squad prepared to set off to Argentina in advance of their first pool meeting with Venezuela on 3 July.
Recent friendlies have not shown the flair in abundance which Brazilian fans crave. Their last outing was a 1-0 win over Romania in a farewell match for Ronaldo and that result came on the heels of a goalless draw with 2010 FIFA World Cup finalists the Netherlands.
However, Menezes, who replaced Dunga after Brazil lost to the Dutch in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, insisted he is building a strong side. "We have the basis (of a side) which has been used in most matches and that will form the backbone for Venezuela," the coach said.
"Theoretically, Paraguay are the strongest of the three teams (in Brazil's pool) but that doesn't mean the others won't pose problems," said Menezes. "We can say Argentina are the favourites as they are playing at home - by the same token Brazil will be favourites for the World Cup in 2014 - well that's the theory," said Menezes.
Earlier, AC Milan's Brazilian defender Thiago Silva made Argentina and Brazil joint favourites to lift the Copa. "Between Brazil and Argentina, it'll be 50/50 - Argentina can be seen as favourites as they'll be at home but we are also seen as the team to beat as we won the last two editions," Silva said.
But he also forecasted that FIFA World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay will pose a real threat. Santos stars Elano, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso will join the squad after they have first played their Copa Libertadores final return leg against Uruguay's Penarol on Wednesday.