Chile and Peru will battle it out at the Arena do Gremio on Wednesday night for a place in the finals of the 2019 Copa America.
Porto Alegre will provide the setting for the second semi-final of the 2019 Copa America, as current holders Chile go head to head against surprise package Peru for a place in the final against hosts Brazil, who defeated Argentina 2-0 in the first semi-final.
Chile started the tournament strongly, picking up wins against Ecuador and Japan, but a narrow defeat to Uruguay meant they finished second in Group C. Facing Colombia in the quarter-finals La Roja played out a goalless draw in normal time, only to come out on top 5-4 in the ensuing penalty shootout.
Having won the last two editions of the Copa America, Reinaldo Rueda’s men will be aiming for another successful defence of the title. Peru, on the other hand, made it to the Last Eight stages by virtue of finishing as the best third-placed team in the group phase.
Ricardo Gareca’s side started out with a draw against Venezuela and beat Bolivia handsomely, before they were thrashed by finalists Brazil in their final group game. Drawn against Uruguay in the quarter-finals, Peru too, like Chile, emerged victorious via penalty shootouts after 90 minutes of goalless action.
The last time these two teams had clashed, Peru had beaten Chile 3-0 and ahead of the monumental clash at the Arena do Gremio, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams;
Team News & Tactics
Rueda has had a settled starting XI throughout the tournament and with no injury or suspension concerns ahead of the big game on Wednesday, one should expect minimal alterations from the Chile manager.
That would mean Gabriel Arias continues between the sticks for La Roja, protected by the central defensive pairing of captain Gary Medel and Guillermo Maripan. The full-back slots on the right and left sides will be taken up by seasoned campaigners Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour respectively.
Erick Pulgar has been the preferred option in the defensive midfield role for Chile and that is unlikely to change for the semi-final clash against Peru. Bayer Leverkusen star Charles Aranguiz and Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal will take up the two remaining midfield slots and look to orchestrate play for the reigning champions.
Jose Pedro Fuenzalida will once again slot in on the right flank for Chile, while in-form Alexis Sanchez is a shoo-in on the opposite flank. Eduardo Vargas should continue to spearhead the attack for La Roja ahead of Nicolas Castillo, who can be an effective option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Arias; Isla, Medel, Maripan, Beausejour; Aranguiz, Pulgar, Vidal; Fuenzalida, Vargas, Sanchez
Attacker Jefferson Farfan is a major doubt for Peru heading into the huge encounter against Chile owing to a knee injury. Apart from the veteran forward, there are no other injury/suspension concerns for manager Ricardo Gareca to contend with.
Peru are unlikely to make any changes to the side that managed to hold Uruguay in the previous round. Pedro Gallese will man the goal for La Blanquirroja and will be shielded by a back four comprising of Luis Advincula and Miguel Trauco as the full-backs while Carlos Zambrano and Luis Abram will partner up at the heart of the defence.
The two-man midfield pivot will see 23-year-old Renato Tapia teaming up with Yoshimar Yotun to help keep the likes of Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz from influencing the game in the final third of the pitch. Christian Cueva will be tasked with providing the creativity from the No. 10 role for Peru.
Andre Carrillo and Edison Flores will carry the threat from the wide areas and will be key in carving out chances for captain and star striker Paolo Guerrero who will be leading the line for the Peruvians against Chile.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gallese; Advincula, Zambrano, Abram, Trauco; Tapia, Yotun; Carrillo, Cueva, Flores; Guerrero
- When it comes to head-to-head record between Chile and Peru, the former have the clear upper hand, having beaten La Blanquirroja on 45 occasions, compared to 22 wins for Peru. 14 contests have ended in draws.
- The last time these two teams met in the Copa America was in 2015. Chile emerged victorious on that occasion, beating Peru 2-1.
- Chile have conceded just two goals till date in the Copa America 2019, whereas their semi-final opponents Peru have shipped in six goals already – five of which came in the mauling against Brazil.
- Peru have made it to the semi-finals of the competition, despite having managed to win just one game in normal time till date.
- Chile have lost just twice in their previous fourteen encounters against Peru, with the latest defeat coming in an international friendly in October last year.
Player to Watch
Much to the surprise of many, the Manchester United superstar has been one of the chief driving forces behind Chile’s run to the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America. Having endured a difficult season with his club and coming into the tournament after an injury layoff, the 30-year-old has stepped up for his country in Brazil.
Sanchez scored two goals and set up one more in the group stages before netting the winning penalty in the shootout against Colombia in the quarter-final to get them into the Final Four stages of the competition. The attacker looks reinvigorated and will once again be the man to watch out for as Chile look to make it to their third consecutive Copa America final.
Chile 2-0 Peru
Peru have exceeded expectations so far in the Copa America, making it to the semi-finals, at the expense of one of the pre-tournament favourites Uruguay. However, they are very much vulnerable at the back as was seen in their defeat to Brazil in the group stages.
And this Chile outfit has what it takes to hurt the Peruvian defence. With Charles Aranguiz dictating play, Alexis Sanchez in hot form and support coming from the likes of Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas, the current trophy holders will have too much quality for their opponents on Wednesday night.
As a result, we at The Hard Tackle are backing Reinaldo Rueda’s men to pick up a victory in Porto Alegre to set up a date with hosts Brazil for the final.