Copa America 2024: Bielsa and Nunez eye Brazil scalp

Marco Bielsa with Darwin Nunez and Endrick with Vinicius Jr
Marco Bielsa with Darwin Nunez and Endrick with Vinicius Jr (PC: X)

Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay have been playing outstanding football in the ongoing Copa America. On July 7, they are set to face Brazil in the quarter-finals at Allegiant Stadium. Bielsa’s team has demonstrated their strength, both offensively and defensively, scoring nine goals and conceding only two in three matches.

In contrast, Brazil remains unbeaten but they have struggled to score, netting only five goals, with four of those coming against Paraguay. Defensively, they have also been strong, conceding only two goals so far.

In a recent exclusive interview with, former Argentine striker Kun Aguero remarked that Uruguay has a lot to offer under Bielsa’s leadership. He believes they should advance far in the tournament and are the only team capable of defeating Argentina, given Bielsa’s familiarity with Lionel Scaloni.

Uruguay have already proven their capabilities by defeating both Argentina (2-0) and Brazil (2-0) in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in 2023.

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Darwin Nunez for Uruguay
Darwin Nunez for Uruguay (PC: Uruguay Football/X)


Marco Bielsa’s redemption in progress?

The Argentine-born coach, Bielsa, has yet to win the Copa America in his illustrious managerial career. As the coach of La Albiceleste, he faced Brazil in the competition twice, in 1999 and 2004. On both occasions, Brazil emerged victorious. In 1999, the Selecao won 2-1 in the quarter-final, and in 2004, they won the final.

Bielsa’s Argentina were moments away from clinching the title in 2004, but Adriano’s 93rd-minute goal forced a 2-2 draw, and Brazil won the penalty shootout 6-4, eventually claiming the title.

Bielsa has coached against Brazil more than any other team (11 matches) but has only secured three victories, losing the remaining eight games. He suffered five consecutive defeats between 2004-2010 but finally triumphed against Brazil in 2023 with a 2-0 victory in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

The 4-2-3-1 formation has been successful for Bielsa’s Uruguay against Brazil, Argentina, and in all three matches of this Copa America. This setup likely means Manuel Ugarte and Federico Valverde will provide a solid midfield base, allowing full-backs like Matias Vina and Nahitan Nandez to advance forward.

Darwin Nunez’s Impact

Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez faced scrutiny last season with Liverpool, but since Bielsa’s arrival, he has become one of the most consistent players for the national team. In 2023, Nunez became the third Uruguayan to score in four consecutive World Cup qualifiers. The Liverpool striker scored in seven consecutive matches for Uruguay before their 1-0 midweek win over the United States, equalling a national record. In their last match against Brazil, where Uruguay won 2-0, he scored one goal and assisted the other.

Nunez might be the key player who would help Bielsa to break his Copa America curse, especially against Brazil. The forward will face his club teammate and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, making for an intriguing battle. In an interview with 100% Deportes in 2023, Nunez praised Bielsa, stating that their conversations have been very beneficial. He also vowed to bring joy to the people of Uruguay with Bielsa’s help. In this Copa, Nunez has already scored two goals.

Brazil coach, Dorival Junior
Brazil coach, Dorival Junior (PC: Brazil Football/X)


Change in formation loading?

Brazil coach, Dorival Junior, has used the 4-2-3-1 formation in all three matches of this Copa America, but it has not been very effective in terms of scoring goals. Against Colombia and Costa Rica, they created opportunities but struggled to penetrate the final third.

Interestingly, in the two friendlies before this competition, Brazil played a 4-3-3 attacking formation. They drew 3-3 with Spain and won 1-0 against England. The formation provided a balanced approach to both attack and defend, allowing control in the midfield.

Endrick to start?

Brazil has suffered a significant setback with their star player, Vinicius Jr., suspended for accumulating yellow cards. Endrick is set to take his place in the starting XI. The 17-year-old has not made a significant impact in his 34 minutes of game time in this tournament but scored a goal each in both friendlies against Spain and England. Fans will be hoping for a similar impact in the quarter-final.

During a press conference on Friday, Dorival mentioned that this clash might be the moment for Brazil’s new sensation. “We’ve lost an important player, but we’ve gained a player who’s coming into his own and is looking for an opportunity. Maybe this is Endrick’s moment. It’s just a matter of time before we find the best formation,” said Dorival.


Overall – 79 matches – Brazil 40, Uruguay 22, draws 17

In the last 5 matches – Brazil 4, Uruguay 1

In Copa America

8 matches – Brazil 5, Uruguay 2, draws 1

Group Stage

Brazil – drew Costa Rica (0-0), defeated Paraguay (4-1), and drew Colombia (1-1) – 5 points, 2nd position in group D

Uruguay – defeated Panama (3-1), Bolivia (5-0), and USA (1-0), 9 points, top of the group C 

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