Brazil determined to end disappointing starts

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> With all 12 teams having played, the biggest surprise at the Copa America has been the disappointing displays by three of the top four.

Updated: July 02, 2007 15:42 IST
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Maracaibo, Venezuela:

With all 12 teams having played, the biggest surprise at the Copa America has been the disappointing displays by three of the top four from the last tournament: Defending champion Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia.

All three were relishing Friday's rest day before the second rotation of group matches resumes at the weekend.

Brazil, the five-time world champion, has the most to prove going into its second Group B match on Sunday against Chile in Maturin after it was stunned 2-0 by depleted guest Mexico on Wednesday.

Brazil also lost a group match in 2004 in Peru, but by then it had already qualified for the quarterfinals. This time, it looks nothing like the side which squeezed through the South American championship three years ago, winning for the third time in four Copas.

It's confidence was dealt another blow when forward Fred, whom coach Dunga considered an important bench player, broke his foot in a practice game and was sidelined for the rest of the tournament.

Uruguay, tied for Argentina for the most Copa titles with 14, will draw the most attention on Saturday during its Group A match against weak rival Bolivia in San Cristobal.

Uruguay, third in 2004, started badly on Tuesday in a 3-0 pasting from Peru at Merida, and has to rebound quickly.

Coach Oscar Tabarez regards Saturday's match as a championship final.

"Winning is the only outcome that helps us," he said on Friday.

Colombia won its group in 2004 and ended up fourth overall in defense of its title, but was embarrassed on Thursday in a stunning 5-0 defeat to Paraguay in Group C. The result was all the more surprising as Colombia was fearless after winning five of its seven warmup matches, and drawing one.

The Colombians have little time to regroup, as they face Argentina on Monday in Maracaibo.

Argentina was the only tournament favorite to handily win its opening match, against a second-string United States 4-1 on Thursday. The Albiceleste have loaded up with some of their best European-based talent to end a 14-year title drought at the Copa.

Two-goal scorer Hernan Crespo and teammates spent Friday relaxing near their hotel pool, smiling for the cameras and lapping up the attention lavished on them by fans.

Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay and Chile have a chance to all but guarantee quarterfinals berth with second victories.

Host Venezuela, on the brink Tuesday of its first Copa win since 1967 before Bolivia equalized with seven minutes to go, meets Peru on Saturday.

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