Copa America hosts Brazil will be aiming to end the group stages undefeated and unscathed when they meet Peru at the Arena Corinthians on Saturday. The two teams should be fairly content with their opening matches, winning and drawing once a piece and picking up four points along the way, with Brazil edging it in terms of goal difference. Winning here is imperative to their hopes of qualifying for the next round, as Venezuela are hot on their heels ready to pounce on any slip up from either nation, with two points in the difference.
Peru are in a rather unexpected position, level on points with the host nation and with qualification for the succeeding round of matches in their hands. Even a stalemate here would see them progress automatically, which is a hugely impressive spot to be in considering how poor their World Cup campaign was last year. After being beaten by a rampant Colombia six days before the tournament’s beginning, Peru then played out a draw with Venezuela as neither side could break the deadlock in ninety odd minutes which contained many chances, however none were taken. Even when their opponents were reduced to ten men fifteen minutes from the end, Peru still could not find a breakthrough. Their encounter with Bolivia was far more rewarding, especially in the way that their victory came about. After going one goal down half an hour into the affair, Peru fought back and netted the equaliser right on the stroke of half time. A 55th minute strike from Jefferson Farfan doubled their tally and put them one in front, while Edison Flores sealed all three points with little to no time remaining.
It is difficult to explain how Brazil must be feeling after their game versus Venezuela. When they faced Bolivia, it was more or less a walk in the park and despite being held to 0-0 at half time, the goals eventually began to flow soon after the break through Coutinho and Everton. When taking on Venezuela though, things didn’t quite go as planned. Brazil had one shot on target in the entire game, as well as six blocked shots and twelve fired wide. The ball was in the back of Venezuela’s net twice, but an offside and a foul – both involving Liverpool attacker Roberto Firmino – saw the goals chalked off. It now leaves Brazil in a bit of a predicament and with a large amount of pressure weighing over their shoulders. Should they come out second best against Peru on Saturday and Venezuela earn maximum points from their matchup with Bolivia, Brazil will end the group stages in third spot and their place in the quarter finals uncertain. That is a worst case scenario though, and Brazil are expected to come out all guns blazing, with a real desire to right the wrongs of what happened in 2014.
Peru shouldn’t see any reason to change from their 4-2-3-1 formation that has worked well for them so far. When playing against Venezuela, it held their opponents to a scoreless draw and in the tie against Bolivia, the opposition only managed to net once from 12 yards out, and it helped them to bag three more later on in the game. In this one, it looks as though they will repeat the same line up again with Jose Paolo up front and Jefferson Farfan, Christian Cueva and Andy Polo sitting close behind. Peru will have a full squad available barring any unexpected injuries.
Fagner is the sole injury concern for Brazil going into this one, which leaves only one option for the right-back spot in Dani Alves. The 4-3-3 they started the Copa America with versus Bolivia was abandoned against Venezuela, and that may have been a mistake on Tite’s part as they failed to score a single goal in the match. The all round performance was below par, and because of that we can see Brazil returning to the 4-3-3 for this upcoming match. Firmino’s place in the number nine position looks solidified, and Coutinho, Richarlison and David Neres will likely play as the three in attacking midfield.
As expected, Brazil are the big favourites for this encounter due to their fantastic flare players in attack and brilliant defensive structure which is yet to let them down. It’s very hard to envision Peru getting many opportunities on Saturday, even on the counter attack, and Skybet have Brazil to win to nil at 1/1, which are actually decent odds considering the strength of Brazil’s team compared to their opponents. When Brazil want to turn up the style, they can do so instantly as was demonstrated versus Bolivia when they netted a couple of goals in quick succession. The same happening again here wouldn’t come as much of a surprise, especially when taking the magnitude of the game, and you can find odds of 7/4 for over 3.5 goals in the game altogether with Skybet. Philippe Coutinho looks like a man determined to prove his doubters wrong and either earn a big move away from Barcelona – where it hasn’t worked out for him as of yet – or maintain his spot in the starting line up with the Spanish giants. He netted twice in the opening game, and Skybet have him to get on the scoresheet any time at 9/5.
Brazil win to nil at 1/1
Over 3.5 goals at 7/4
Coutinho to score anytime at 9/5