Sports Monks

Brazil vs Peru – Copa America 2019 Final: Pre-Match Preview and Analysis

Brazil vs Peru - Copa America 2019 Final:

The Copa America 2019 concludes on Monday, 7th July at 17:00 hours local time, at the beautiful Maracana stadium in Brazil. Fittingly, gracing the final will be the hosts themselves, and they take on Peru, a side that has kept defying the odds all throughout the knockout stages. It sets up a classic giant vs the in-form underdogs narrative, but it would be foolhardy to dismiss the Peruvian side as nothing more than underdogs.

Past Meetings

Past results between the pair show a lopsided statistic, with Brazil having won 7 of the last 10 clashes against Peru, losing just once (In the Copa America 2016) and drawing twice. Their most recent meeting ended with the hosts putting 5 unanswered goals past the Peruvians, in the group stages of the present tournament. One hopes that we will see a much more balanced game this time around.

Road to the final

Brazil’s road to the final has seen them (their defence, to be more specific) emerge unscathed from all the matches they’ve played thus far, keeping 5 clean sheets this tournament, and 7 on the bounce. That form has motivated several journalists to recommend Alisson Becker’s name as a potential Balon D’Or top 3 candidate. En route to the final though, they did thump Peru 5-0 in the 2nd round of the group stages. Gabriel Jesus converted the final and decisive penalty in the shoot out to send Brazil through to the semi-finals at the expense of Paraguay. A controversial 2-0 semi-final win against Argentina followed, which left the AFA (Argentine Football Association) livid and moved them to file a complaint with the CONMEBOL.

Peru’s road to the final saw them suffer a serious nosedive, before a recovery steadied the road and re-directed them uphill. Finishing 3rd in their own group after a single win in 3, many neutrals didn’t give Peru a chance when they took on Uruguay in the quarters. After holding on 90 minutes, they went through on penalties. Against Chile however, it was a whole different ballgame. An inspired 3-0 result saw them comprehensively win and set up an interesting clash with Brazil.

Injury Concerns

Brazil: Chelsea FC’s Willian has been confirmed to be ruled out of the final after picking up a knock that affected his hamstring against Argentina in the semis. The injury isn’t thought to be too concerning, and Willian will return to Chelsea for the first game of the Premier League 19/20 season. Willian was only called up to replace the injured Neymar. Fernandinho is expected to recover in time to be available for selection, as is left back Filipe Luis.

Peru: Jefferson Farfan will be a significant loss for Peru, after a knee injury sustained towards the close of the group stages ruled him out of the remainder of the Copa America. The rest of the squad is fit and available to be called upon by manager Ricardo Gareca.

Analysis

Brazil have shown a lot of threat from their wings, with Dani Alves getting forward a lot from the right. The right back’s lob, control, fake shot cutting inside and no-look pass against Argentina was admired by fans around the world, with many brandishing the title of the world’s greatest ever right back upon him. Peru will have to be very, very careful while dealing with Alves. While overcommitting would be suicidal, merely backing off will encourage him further forward, and tempt him to unleash a rocket off his right boot, which we know he’s capable of. Positional awareness and playing the numbers game will be key to defending the Peruvian flanks.

It works to Brazil’s advantage that the flanks have been a rather weak spot for Peru. More specifically, the space between the centre half on either side and the corresponding full back has generally been an easy target to try and get a winger in behind. What follows are crosses into the box, and while the centre halves have dealt with them credibly, the initial clearing headers have generally been ineffective. The lack of distance in the header has meant the ball has fallen immediately to an opposing player, either inside the 30-yard box or its edge. And that is a mouth-watering prospect for someone with the shooting ability of Phillipe Coutinho.

So, in a nutshell, it is likely that the Brazilians will have the lion’s share of possession in their own backyard and will use the threat of their wingers and the advancing full backs to cause Peru problems. Coach Gareca, having shown himself quite the pragmatic tactician thus far, is likely to instruct his men to play a flat and congested back 4, with the offside trap an outside possibility. The defensive midfielders will have to be alert and get to any loose balls and knock downs before the Brazilian attackers and get proper distance on their clearances.

Attack has not really been an issue for Peru, for they’ve attacked well when they’ve had the ball. They’ve looked to hog the touchline and build from the wings before a release ball inside. More of the same is just what the doctor will order.

A very exciting match is on the cards for us this Monday dawn. While Brazil are still the favourites to win the trophy on home soil, Peru have a fairly good chance to upset the odds and the established order. Should they play their cards right, they could fight blow for blow with their Brazilian counterparts. May the best team emerge victorious!

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