Brazil: Endrick to start for suspended Vinícius Jr.


Real Madrid-bound teenager Endrick will start for Brazil in place of the suspended Vinícius Júnior in Saturday’s Copa América quarterfinal match against Uruguay, coach Dorival Junior has confirmed.

“We lost an important player, but we gained another young man looking for an opportunity. Maybe it’s Endrick’s time to shine,” Dorival told reports in a news conference Friday ahead of the game at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.

Endrick, a 17 year-old forward who will soon join Vinícius in Madrid after a run with Palmeiras, appeared in all three group stages games in the Copa, but only as a substitute.

“Endrick isn’t specifically a stationary reference point sort of number 9, who prefers to do the pivot. He’s a player who moves around the pitch and makes those runs,” Dorival added.

In an attack without Vinícius, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, the Brazilians will seek to avoid some of the issues that led to two draws in the group stage.

“I hope that we can continue to find the path to scoring goals,” Dorival said. “The team’s work revolves around providing attackers with opportunities to finish, invade the area, and attack the opponent’s last line … This will not be different.”

Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa, meanwhile, brushed off the idea that Vinícius’ absence would alter his strategy for the game.

“Well I personally don’t believe that it affects it at all. Brazil is a country that has many wingers, both left and right, nowadays playing in the biggest teams across the world and performing at a great level,” Bielsa said in his own news conference.

“So whatever substitute they choose to fill in for Vinícius isn’t going to be easily neutralized by us.”

Earlier in the week, Dorival questioned the decision to give Vinicius a yellow card in the 1-1 draw with Colombia, which led to his suspension.

”It’s a situation that happened in the game,” he said. “In the first move, which was accidental for me, he ended up getting the first card. Everything that happened was very strange.”

But, when asked Friday about the number of controversial officiating decisions in this Copa América, Bielsa dismissed any concerns.

“[Referee] controversies are never healthy,” he said. “Referees have a very, very, very tough job.”

Uruguay topped Group C thanks to nine points gained in three consecutive wins, including most recently over the U.S. men’s national team, while Brazil head into the knockout round after gaining five points to take second spot behind Colombia in Group D.

The winner in Las Vegas will take on the victor between Colombia and Panama in the semifinals on July 10.

Although Uruguay have more Copa trophies with 15, Brazil have been more dominant in the modern era with three of their nine titles arriving in the 21st century.

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