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Written by Olaleye Oluwadamilola

The race for the knockout stage of Copa America heats up as Venezuela and Mexico clash in a crucial Group B encounter. Both teams emerged victorious in their opening matches, setting the stage for a high-stakes battle in Kansas City. This match could very well determine which team joins Argentina, the winner of Group A, in the next round.

Venezuela

Venezuela pulled off a thrilling comeback against Ecuador on Saturday. Despite playing a man down, Ecuador held the lead until the introduction of substitutes Jhonder Cadiz and Eduard Bello. The two substitutes turned the tide for Venezuela, scoring the goals that secured a dramatic 2-1 win.

The victory marked a significant turnaround for Fernando Batista’s team. Not only did it break their opening match curse at the Copa America, but it also ended a five-game winless streak across all competitions. This win represents a much-needed boost of confidence for Batista’s men, who haven’t secured a first-match victory at the Copa America since 2016.

This edition has already been an improvement for Venezuela, who couldn’t pick up a win in the group stage back in 2021.

Mexico

Mexico started their Copa America campaign on a strong note with a narrow 1-0 victory over Jamaica. They’ll be looking to build on that momentum and secure a vital three points against Venezuela.

All sixteen players who took the field for El Tri enjoyed their first taste of Copa America action, putting a positive spin on the team’s performance after two lackluster defeats in friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay leading up to the tournament.

However, questions linger for manager Jaime Lozano. While the youngsters impressed, Lozano’s decision to omit experienced veterans like Raúl Jiménez, Guillermo Ochoa, and Hirving Lozano from the Copa America roster remains a gamble. Lozano, a two-time Copa America veteran himself as a player, will need to continue proving his strategy is the right path forward, especially as the competition intensifies.


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Head to Head

Mexico boasts a dominant historical record against Venezuela, having never lost in 13 meetings. They’ve even emerged victorious in two out of the three Copa America encounters between the two sides.

Key Performers

Jhonder Cádiz is riding a wave of confidence. After a stellar season with Portuguese club Famalicão, where he netted 16 goals, including 10 opening strikes, he continued his scoring form by grabbing Venezuela’s first goal against Ecuador.

This wasn’t the first time SoFi Stadium, California, witnessed a player rise to the occasion. Just 11 months ago, Mexican striker Santiago Giménez became the hero at this very venue, scoring the only goal in their 2023 Gold Cup final victory over Panama.

Both players will be looking to replicate their past successes as their respective teams clash in this crucial Copa America match.

Verdict

Mexico face a significant hurdle with the loss of key player Alvarez. Manager Jaime Lozano’s squad has already been grappling with inconsistency since his appointment, and their performance against Jamaica raised concerns with several shaky moments.

However, Venezuela is a team on a high after their opening win. Their confidence is soaring, and they possess the attacking talent to potentially exploit weaknesses in the Mexican defense. This match has the potential to be an upset, with Venezuela looking to build on their strong start.

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