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Copa America: Tite expected to make changes to Brazil's team

SAO PAULO (AP) — Under pressure after two lackluster performances by Brazil in the Copa America at home, coach Tite is expected to make changes to his squad ahead of its final group game this weekend.

Brazil faces Peru on Saturday in Sao Paulo needing at least a draw to guarantee a place in the next round of the South American competition. Few doubt Brazil will make it through, as the "Selecao" can advance even with a loss, but only a convincing performance will satisfy the demanding Brazilian fans and relieve some of the pressure on Tite.

The coach's main changes are expected in the attack, which has been the team's primary weakness. Brazil entered the tournament without Neymar because of an ankle injury, and none of the other forwards have been able to make up for his absence.

David Neres, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino, the trio that started the first two matches, are yet to score. In the 3-0 opening win against Bolivia a week ago, Brazil had two goals from Philippe Coutinho and one from substitute Everton. The second match was a 0-0 draw against Venezuela on Tuesday.

"We weren't effective enough in the attack," Tite said after the Venezuela match. "We needed to be more precise up front to be able to translate our superiority into goals." Tite, who on Thursday completed three years as Brazil coach, said after the team's World Cup elimination last year he regretted taking too long to make changes to the squad, and that this time he would not make the same mistake.

Brazil was jeered in both Copa America matches and many of the boos were aimed at Tite when he substituted defensive midfielder Casemiro with another defensive midfielder Fernandinho against Venezuela despite the team's inability to create scoring chances.

The fans wanted him to use Everton, who played well coming off the bench in both games and is the player most likely to earn a starting spot against Peru. The quick 23-year-old Gremio forward helped open up the opponent's defense, allowing Brazil to improve and create more scoring opportunities.

The other possible player to get a chance on Saturday is Gabriel Jesus, who has also come off the bench twice. The Manchester City forward wasn't as effective as Everton, but did help improve the attack. He found the net in the second half against Venezuela, but the goal was disallowed after video review.

David Neres had decent performances playing in Neymar's position, but it was Coutinho who many felt should have taken over the leading role from the Paris Saint-Germain star. Coutinho also had a goal disallowed by video review against Venezuela, but despite his decisive scores against Bolivia his performances have been below expectations.

Two midfielders didn't practice along with the rest of the squad on Thursday because of minor injuries — Arthur and Fernandinho. Arthur hurt his foot against Venezuela but is expected to be available on Saturday, while Fernandinho is likely to be out because of a knee ailment.

Brazil and Peru are tied at the top of Group A with four points, two more than third-place Venezuela. Bolivia has no points after two matches. Venezuela and Bolivia meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.

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