Ralph Hannah –
Brazil vs Peru – Sunday, July 7, 16:00 BRT/21:00 CEST – Estadio Maracaná, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil play Peru at the Marcaná looking to win their 9th Copa America title and preserve their perfect record of always winning the tournament at home. Peru have surprised bookmakers and pundits alike by getting this far, especially having lost their final group game 5-0 to the verdeamarelho. Could they go one step further and win their 3rd Copa America and first since 1975?
The hosts are yet to concede and but for a penalty shootout against Paraguay have never really looked ruffled in their five games so far. Tite has found an able replacement for Neymar in winger Everton, and also has assembled a team that is patient and will try to attack from different angles when teams sit back. That was evident in the semifinal against Argentina where the most potent offensive threat was 36-year-old right back Dani Alves.
Peru have been something of an enigma, at times playing wonderfully fluid football like they did against Chile to win 3-0 but with a similar style they drew 0-0 to Venezuela earlier in the tournament. They also lost 5-0, in the group stage to Brazil, yet have made the final – almost unprecedented in a major tournament (Germany did lose 8-3 to Hungary in the 1954 World Cup only to beat them in the final).
Expect both sides to set up similar to their previous games, Brazil will dominate possession with players like Arthur and Coutinho while Peru will let them, sitting back and becoming narrow to pack the box as they enter the final third. Brazil have generally struggled when forced wide to cross the ball as Firmino doesn’t offer much of a presence inside the box.
Peru meanwhile have Paolo Guerrero, their all-time top scorer and the leading active goalscorer in the Copa America, who can happily play on his own and hold up the ball or make runs into the channel. Against Chile they only had 35% possession, using the speed of players like Andres Carrillo and Edison Flores on the counter to create attacks. The key will be in getting the balance right and not overcommitting in those sporadic attacks to avoid leaving too much space for Everton, Gabriel Jesús and yes, Dani Alves – to work with.
Ultimately Brazil are a more mobile side than Chile, especially the defensive pairing of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, so they should be able to effectively repel Peru’s counter – just as they have stopped everything else this tournament. With home advantage and more big game experience you would expect the trophy to be in the hands of the hosts by the end of the afternoon.
Brazil vs Peru – Players to look out for:
Everton #19 – Brazil
The 23-year-old Gremio winger only got his chance because of Neymar’s injury, being deployed on the left side of a three-man attack. He has grabbed the chance and been the most exciting offensive threat scoring two and assisting once so far. He runs at defenders at pace and likes to cut in and shoot often creating space by dragging players into positions they don’t want to be.
Fun fact: His nickname is “Cebolinha” (Little Onion) for his resemblance to a character from popular comic strip Turma da Mónica(Monica’s gang).
Pedro Gallese #1– Peru
The Alianza Lima stopper made a serious blooper in the first game against Brazil, but for most of the tournament he has been Peru’s hero – keeping three cleansheets. Also if it goes to penalties then all eyes will be on Gallese, who has already saved two in regular time (vs Gabriel Jesús and Eduardo Vargas) and one in a shootout (vs Luis Suárez). In fact Gallese saved a penalty on his debut for the Incas in 2014 playing against Panama.
Fun fact: Gallese has scored once in his career, playing for San Martin reserves, and it was against his friend and the goalkeeper that kept him out of the starting line up for Peru at the U17s World Cup, Eder Hermoza.
Brazil vs Peru – Match Stats
- Peru have only won 4 games against Brazilin their 55 previous meetings
- Brazil have conceded just 2 in their last 6 meetings with Peru, scoring 15.
- Brazil haven’t lost at the Maracaná since a friendly 1998 (0-1 vs Argentina) their only competitive defeat was the “Marcanazo” in 1950 vs Uruguay
- Peru have played one Copa America Final on neutral ground, the 1975 tiebreaker vs Colombia in Caracas, they won 1-0
- Ricardo Gareca has won one international title as a coach, the 1999 Copa CONMEBOL with Talleres de Cordoba. They beat Brazilian side Sportivo Alagoano in the final.
- Tite has won five international titles as coach including the 1998 Copa Sudamericana (Internacional) and the 2012 Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup (Corinthians).
- If Brazil win and keep a cleansheet they will be the first side since Colombia (2001) to win the tournament without conceding
- Brazil have never lost a game when Casemiro is starting, on Sunday he will win his 41st
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Brazil vs Peru – 2-0
Brazil vs Peru – Expected Lineups
Alisson – Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Luis – Casemiro, Arthur – Everton, Coutinho, Jesus – Firmino
Head Coach: Tite
Gallese – Advíncula, Zambrano, Abram, Trauco – Tapia, Yotún – Flores, Cueva, Carrillo – Guerrero
Head Coach: Ricardo Gareca
Ralph Hannah is Londoner, who has lived in Luque and is now located in Miami, with a keen interest in Paraguayan football history and statistics. A frequent traveller throughout Latin America he attends games throughout the region and has written for a variety of publications and set up the first English-language blog on Paraguayan Football. When not in the Defensores del Chaco he’s looking after his two daughters. Follow Ralph on Twitter @paraguayralph.