East Rutherford, NJ - Friday September 07, 2018: The men's national teams of the United States (USA) and Brazil (BRA) played an international friendly at MetLife Stadium. .

Fabinho makes 1st start in 2 years as Brazil continue perfect Copa America run

Despite being one of the best midfielders in the world, Fabinho is a rare starter for Brazil. In fact, Liverpool’s No. 3 made only his sixth start for his country on Friday.

It is a strange reality that Man United‘s Fred is a first-choice starter for Brazil and Fabinho is not, but the 27-year-old has world-class competition in his deep-lying role.

With Casemiro wearing the captain’s armband for Tite’s side, he has been restricted to sporadic appearances off the bench over the last two years – while often being unused completely.

Their second Copa America group game, however, saw a shuffling of the pack and a change of formation, with Fabinho one of six changes as Ederson, Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro, Everton and Gabriel Barbosa also came in against Peru.

Fabinho partnered Fred in the two-man midfield of a 4-2-3-1, with Alisson dropping to the bench and Roberto Firmino left out again despite two alterations in attack.

The Group B clash brought his first start since a 3-0 friendly win over South Korea at the end of 2019, and only his second in three years.

It heralded a 4-0 win for Brazil, with Alex Sandro, Neymar, Everton and substitute Richarlison getting the goals, as Fabinho played the full 90 minutes.

Unsurprisingly, Alisson was unused throughout, while Firmino came off the bench for the final 18 minutes and had a hand in Richarlison’s goal, seeing his shot blocked before the Everton striker converted at the third time of asking.

The win saw Brazil book their place in the quarter-finals of Copa America, which they are hosting for the second tournament in a row due to COVID-19 concerns in Argentina.

RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ - 07.07.2019: BRAZIL VS. PERU - Firmino and Alisson celebrate title after the match between Brazil and Peru, valid for the Copa America 2019 final, held this Sunday (07) at the Maracan„ Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, RJ. (Photo by Nayra Halm/Fotoarena/Sipa USA)

Brazil won Copa America in 2019, and if they follow it up with another this time around, they will join Argentina and Uruguay in having sealed consecutive triumphs on three occasions in its history.

Argentina (14) and Uruguay (15) are the only nations to have won Copa America more than Brazil (nine), who also beat Peru in the final two years ago.

So far, Tite’s Selecao are yet to concede in the 2021 tournament, having sealed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Venezuela in the opener of Group B.