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New faces, new approach - Can Brazil kick on at Copa America?

Six late changes to the squad rocked Brazil coach Dunga’s preparation for the Copa America Centenario this month.

But the eight-time South American champions saw a number of positives from their tournament opener on Saturday despite playing out a goalless draw with Ecuador.

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Marquinhos, 22, was one of many who, ahead of the competition, did not expect to be lining up in the first team at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender was drafted in last minute after captain Miranda was forced to sit out with a muscle injury.

And Marquinhos appeared to settle instantly into a team that we have seen attempt to implement a more possession-based, attacking system this month.

Marquinhos' stats vs Ecuador

That change in tact even effected the goalkeeper. Internacional’s Alisson cemented his place as Dunga’s No.1 during recent World Cup qualifiers but this summer's Copa is his first major international tournament.

Throughout the clash with Ecuador, Alisson, for the first time in a Brazil shirt, repeatedly rushed from his goal acting almost as a ‘libero’, encouraging the outfield players to push higher up the pitch.

He had a fright when an error allowed a low Miller Bolanos shot to creep inside his near-post, but his blushes were saved (perhaps incorrectly) when the officials ruled the ball had already gone out of play.

That scare aside, Brazil’s more expansive approach left him with little to do between the posts and his willingness to push upfield to make an eleventh outfield player was an encouraging sign for the coaching staff.

Alisson made 92% of his 25 attempted passes against Ecuador. In his last appearance, against Paraguay in qualifying, he completed just 52% of 13.

Another who impressed after not expecting to feature heavily in USA was Real Madrid’s Casemiro. He replaced Luiz Gustavo in the squad and went straight into the starting XI at his first training session with the squad last week.

Luiz Gustavo’s withdrawal for personal problems leaves the former Sao Paulo man a bonafide first-team player for Brazil this month.

Arriving fresh from a UEFA Champions League triumph with the Spanish giants, it was hoped that Casemiro would provide a better range of passing from his position in front of the back four.

He suffered an early yellow card but marshalled the space ahead of the defence proficiently. Ecuador’s threat on the counter meant Elias had to drop and help out when the Selecao lost possession and Casemiro will want to join the attack a little more frequently in future games.

Of all the newcomers, Benfica’s Jonas had the most difficult evening. Brought in a late replacement for Santos veteran Ricardo Oliveira, he found the net in last month’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour victory over Panama but failed to make the breakthrough in his Copa debut.

The 32-year-old lacked service from the midfield and repeatedly dropped from his role as a roaming No. 9. He was often forced wide, but created an excellent opportunity for Phillipe Coutinho which should have resulted in the opening goal.

Arriving off the back of a magnificent season in Portugal, Jonas will be hoping for more support from his colleagues going forward.

Jonas' heatmap vs Ecuador

Jonas was eventually replaced by Santos starlet Gabibol, who had scored the second against Panama on his Brazil debut less than a week previously.

However, the 19-year-old encountered the same issues as his predecessor, with the increased creativity Dunga has added to the midfield failing to present him with clear chance to break the deadlock.

Brazil meet Haiti on Wednesday as huge favourites, and will be expected to truly get their Copa America campaign off and running in Orlando.

They should dominate possession throughout and Dunga will be hoping his fresh-faced side add the cutting edge they lacked in their opener.