Group A’s second fixture will see Peru and Venezuela go head to head at the Arena do Gremio for an 8pm kick off. Neither side has enjoyed impeccable form leading up to the tournament’s beginning, so both will be fully determined to leave a positive impression and potentially go top of their group depending on the other result. It’s expected to be a heated tie with end to end action, as affairs between these two have previously demonstrated.
There hasn’t been a victory in this fixture since June 2015 four years ago, with the two encounters since then finished 2-2 during World Cup qualification. Peru slightly edge the head to head record though, winning three of the seven matches involving these two compared to Venezuela’s two victories overall. Peru will be aware that their opponents haven’t beaten them since 2015, however they have also struggled to pick up wins in this one with their most recent three points over Venezuela arriving in the qualification fixtures for the 2014 World Cup.
It certainly hasn’t been the worst of preparations for a major tournament from Venezuela’s point of view, undefeated in four of their final five matches leading up to it. Undoubtedly the best result during that time came against Argentina when they netted three times to their opponents’ one in a magnificent performance in Madrid, with Salomon Rondon, Jhon Murrilo andJosef Martinez getting amongst the goals in that one. A postponed friendly versus Trinidad & Tobago disrupted the preparation a little, and a stalemate against Ecuador was evidence of that as they gave away the equalizer with virtually the last kick of the game. Three days later, Venezuela met Mexico in Georgia and were swiftly put to the sword by three goals to one, however last time out they demolished a struggling USA team 0-3 to go into this competition on a high.
Peru on the other hand, have lost three of their previous five outings preceding the Copa America and have netted just twice in four games. Obviously, this has proven to be a rather disappointing lead up to what could be a fantastic tournament for the side. The positives to take into this matchup are the displays versus Paraguay and Costa Rica, where they ran out 1-0 winners in both as Christian Cueva notched the goals. It is always difficult to get ready for a massive competitive tournament simply by playing friendly matches, and that has looked to be the case again here for Peru as Colombia thrashed them 3-0 in a game which saw them finish with ten men as Yoshimar Yotun received a red card just before the hour mark. There are good things to be taken from the games they took part in, however last week’s result isn’t one of them.
The two final outings prior to the Copa America saw Venezuela line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and they managed to score at least once in both ties so there is evidently some bonus to using that system. Rondon will likely play up front on his own, whether it be in a 4-5-1 that they started with versus Argentina or the expected 4-2-3-1 they’ve prepared for the tournament with. Adalberto Penaranda has a hamstring injury and may not feature in this one.
For Peru, Carlos Zambrano looks unlikely to play any part due to an unfortunate thigh injury he picked up. Ricardo Gareca has made his plans for this tournament no secret at all, lining his side up in a 4-2-3-1 in each of their last three matches before the first official match versus Venezuela. Barring any drastic last minute switch to a new system, it appears quite obvious that Peru will continue to work on and play with that formation here.
Salomon Rondon has been one of the standout players for both club and country over the course of this campaign, with vital goals for Newcastle United and a wonderful finish to score against Lionel Messi’s Argentina side. With Skybet, the forward is at 23/10 to score anytime and we can certainly see him banging another one in on Saturday. Unfortunately, from his point of view, we can also see Peru holding their own and putting forward attacks of their own, so both teams scoring looks likely at 11/10 with Skybet again, especially when taking the last two fixtures between this pair into consideration.
It’s actually slightly difficult to see anything other than a draw from this match. The last two meetings involving the two have found them very hard to separate in all areas of the field and they simply always seem to better one another’s defense at some point. Skybet have a draw as the final result at 2/1 and that could be one of the better choices available for this game.
Rondon to score anytime at 23/10
BTTS at 11/10
Draw at 2/1