Menezes: Argentina are Copa favourites

Speaking after Ronaldo’s farewell match, Brazil coach Mano Menezes singled out hosts Argentina as the team to beat in the Copa America.Brazil defeated Romania 1-0 in an international friendly on Tuesday, with 34-year-old Ronaldo making a 15-minute cameo, his final appearance for the national team.

A World Cup winner in 2002 and three times FIFA World Player of the Year, at his peak Ronaldo was one of the most destructive strikers of his generation.

But a succession of serious knee injuries led to a steady decline in form and fitness and he called time on his career in February this year.

Menezes and his players did their best to engineer a final strike for Ronaldo in front of a packed house at the Pacaembu Stadium, Sao Paulo, but it was not to be.

“We made some pretty good plays so that he would be able to score, and he almost did it on his own anyway despite his lack of fitness,” Manzano said.

“He showed the people who came to watch his farewell match, two or three good plays, so we were all very happy.”

With the frivolity of Ronaldo’s goodbye out the way, Brazil now have the serious matter of retaining their continental title at next month’s Copa America.

Brazil have won four of the last five tournaments – held every four years – with Colombia taking the other in 2001.

Argentina’s last success came back in 1993, but Menezes believes this year’s hosts are the biggest threat to Brazil’s recent monopoly.

“We know that Argentina is capable of beating us, but we’ll progress through the competition with one thought, that when we make it to the final, it’s because we deserve it and are capable of winning,” Menezes said.

“So that’s how we’re going to look at this tournament.”

AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and Santos midfielder Ganzo have both been included in the Brazil squad, despite carrying injuries.

Menezes said he is willing to risk their inclusion for now and has up until June 26 to alter his selection.

“Any doubts that we may have; anything that happens outside our control, we have until the 26th to make changes,” he said.

“But we were very careful and we received a lot of information in relation to Pato and Ganso and we fully believe that they’ll both be in the Copa America together with the rest of the Brazilian squad.”

 


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