Top spot in Group A of the 2019 Copa America will be on the line when Brazil and Peru meet at Arena Corinthians on Saturday.

The curtains are set to fall on the group stage of the 2019 Copa America over the turn of the weekend as Matchday 3 begins on Saturday. As always, hosts Brazil will be among the first in action as they take on Peru at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, with top spot in Group A on the line.

Both Peru and Brazil have faced Bolivia and Venezuela thus far. Both teams have beaten Bolivia but have been held to a goalless draw each by Venezuela, who sit third and in with a slim chance to end at the summit of Group A, although they will first need to open their goal scoring account to do so.

The only thing separating Peru and Brazil, with the latter sitting on top of the standings, is goal difference, with La Blanquirroja only managing a 3-1 win over Bolivia as compared to the Copa America hosts’ 3-0 success in the opening game of the tournament.

Peru and Brazil last met in 2016, with the Selecao running out comfortable 2-0 winners. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Copa America contest.

Team News & Tactics

Peru

Peru are in contention to top the group after their 3-1 win over Bolivia. (Photo by Bruna Prado/Getty Images)

Peru are in contention to top the group after their 3-1 win over Bolivia. (Photo by Bruna Prado/Getty Images)

With a long-term manager at the helm, stability is the name of the game for Peru, who have only undergone minor changes since the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But, the core group of players largely remain, which has subsequently ensured assured displays in Brazil thus far.

Ricardo Gareca is expected to line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation once again, with two holding midfielders sitting in the middle of the park to add more steel on the defensive front. These two midfielders will be Renato Tapia and Yoshimar Yotun, with the latter the one advancing forward on the transitions.

Pedro Gallese provides a dependable presence in goal for La Blanquirroja and the 29-year-old can brace himself for a busy outing against Brazil. The back four will also see the usual suspects lining up, with Luis Abram the only recent addition to the defensive unit.

The young centre-back will be accompanied by the experienced Carlos Zambrano, who has guided the 23-year-old well. Flanking Peru’s central defensive partnership will be Luis Advincula and Miguel Trauco, who will largely be tasked with sitting back and only bombing forward on the rare occasions that present themselves.

Up ahead in attack, Christian Cueva and Andy Polo will be the two wide men who will aim to whip in the crosses for Peru hitman and captain Paolo Guerrero. Jefferson Farfan looked far more effective in a more central area, and the veteran forward will play almost as a second striker, supporting Guerrero.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gallese; Advincula, Zambrano, Abram, Trauco; Yotun, Tapia; Polo, Farfan, Cueva; Guerrero

Peru

Brazil

After a less than ideal result against Venezuela, subtle changes are expected to be made to the starting lineup by Tite, who will still be concerned about not affecting the rhythm too much by making major shuffles.

To that end, David Neres could end up losing his place on the left side of the Brazil attack, having failed to make much of a mark in his two outings thus far. In his place, Everton Soares, who has looked dangerous off the bench in each of his cameos, might get a chance to impress.

On the opposite flank, Richarlison is expected to keep his place ahead of Willian, with Philippe Coutinho sitting in the hole in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Coutinho will be the chief playmaker for Brazil against Peru, with Arthur playing the support role in the build-up plays.

Arthur is not likely to be dropped as the additional creativity will be needed against a solid outfit like Peru. Casemiro will partner Arthur in the middle of the park, with the holding midfielder being the destroyer in the middle of the park.

Up ahead, Roberto Firmino might get a final chance to lead the line, despite not looking all too dangerous so far. Gabriel Jesus though, has a slim chance of making the starting lineup in place of his fellow Premier League striker.

At the back, no changes are expected, with the back four of Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Filipe Luis doing a solid job in each of Brazil’s first two Copa America games. Alisson will be manning the Brazilian goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Luis; Casemiro, Arthur; Richarlison, Coutinho, Everton; Firmino

Brazil

Key Stats

  • Brazil have a resounding head-to-head record against Peru, having been beaten just 4 times in 44 meetings (W31 D9).
  • Peru though, got the better of the Selecao the last time these two teams were paired together in the same group in Copa America, winning 1-0 as Brazil bowed out at the group stage. La Blanquirroja, in fact, are unbeaten in their last two away meetings with Brazil in the Copa America winning 3-1 in 1975 and drawing 0-0 in 1989.
  • Brazil are unbeaten in their past 16 Copa America home games, winning nine and drawing seven.
  • Brazil have kept eight consecutive clean sheets at home in the Copa America, last conceding against Venezuela in 1989.
  • Among active players, Paolo Guerrero has scored the joint-most goals in Copa America tournaments (12, alongside Eduardo Vargas).

Player to Watch

Philippe Coutinho

Can Coutinho provide the magical touch? (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Can Coutinho provide the magical touch? (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

There is something mercurial about Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian international could do almost nothing while representing Barcelona in the 2018-19 season. But, a return to the national colours has seen the 27-year-old go a long way towards rediscovering his best.

Coutinho was the catalyst in the dominant 3-0 win over Bolivia that has, so far, ensured top spot in Group A for Brazil. He now needs to resume in the same vein in order to guide the Selecao to a group-clinching result. And, with Peru boasting one of the most stubborn defensive units at the 2019 Copa America, Brazil need Coutinho at his best for the chances to flow.

Prediction

Peru 0-1 Brazil

Brazil continue to falter at the big competitions, having looked largely imperious otherwise over the last one year. Oftentimes looking rather clueless, hurt by the absence of the talismanic Neymar, Tite’s men face another tough challenge in Peru. But, La Blanquirroja have not been fluid going forward themselves.

With Brazil boasting perhaps the best defence at the 2019 Copa America, there is hard to see Ricardo Gareca’s men finding a way past Alisson on the night. But, the Selecao’s own deficiencies mean this will be another game that will be short of goalmouth action.

Expect the two sides to remain fiercely competitive for much of the 90 minutes, with Brazil finding a game changing moment to nick a close win. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for Tite & co. to seal top spot in Group A and leaving Peru’s hopes hanging on the result of the other Group A Matchda 3 fixture.

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