Brazil v Peru preview
Brazil face Peru in their final Group B match up in the Copa América Centenário tonight in Foxborough (Kick-off 0130 BST), and are favorites with http://leovegassports.com/ and other bookmakers to win the game and top their group.
That means the winner of Brazil’s group will face a full strength Colombia in the quarter-finals, the runners-up will face the USA, whose tails will be facing skywards having qualified against the odds. Neither is an attractive tie for the two teams that escape from Group B, but on balance, Colombia are the better side. So we are left with the odd situation of the group winners being handed a tougher tie in the quarter-finals.
To add to the complication, Ecuador play against Haiti just before Brazil and Peru face off, so both sides will know exactly what will be required to qualify. The Seleção are in the box seat to top the group, a win against Peru guarantees that. A draw will probably suffice, unless Ecuador are able to better Brazil’s 6 goal margin of victory against Haiti. For Peru, the ramifications are a tad simpler. Win and they will qualify.
Dunga has some selection headaches ahead of this match, one of which has been thrust upon him. Casemiro is suspended and the manager has a number of options for counteracting the loss of the Madrid man- all of which will be relatively untried. He has two direct replacements in his squad. São Paulo’s Rodrigo Caio, who plays mainly as a centre half but has often operated as a destroyer in the deep lying midfield role. He also has Grêmio’s Walace- called up when Luiz Gustavo withdrew from the tournament- is a volante by trade.
Walace and Rodrigo Caio have 29 minutes of full international experience between them. Caio was a substitute in the warm up friendly win over Panama a fortnight ago. Walace was a 72nd minute substitute in the 7-1 win over Haiti on Thursday. The fact that Walace got the nod from the bench against Haiti after Casemiro’s yellow card suggests that he is more enlarged in Dunga’s thoughts than Rodrigo Caio. However, neither player offers the passing range that Casemiro possesses.
Casemiro nudged ahead of Luiz Gustavo in the pecking order precisely because of his ability to spread play. Without him, a midfield trio of Walace / Rodrigo Caio, Renato Augusto and Elias does not have the same purpose in possession. Dunga has experimented with a “hands free” approach in the defensive midfield role of late. Against Panama and Haiti he played close to a third of each match without a recognised destroyer, moving Renato Augusto into a slightly deeper role.
This option would allow the manager to introduce wither Lucas Lima or Ganso into the centre of the pitch to replace some of Casemiro’s passing attributes. But whether Dunga will be minded for such an adventurous solution against a counter attacking team like Peru- who are probably going to have to push for a victory- remains to be seen. It would certainly go against Dunga’s conservative nature. But he has shown a willingness to adopt new approaches recently.
Further forward, questions abound over his centre forward choice. The central striker role has been in constant transition under Dunga’s premiership. Diego Tardelli, Robinho, Ricardo Oliveira, Neymar and now Jonas have all been tried in various imaginings of the position and few have really convinced. Jonas started the first two group games but has been replaced relatively early on in both occasions. Gabriel Barbosa was the first man called for from the bench in both matches as well.
Against Haiti, Dunga replaced Jonas with the Santos youngster at half time, arguing that the Seleção needed a more penetrative option upfront. The manager’s hunch was justified, Gabigol helped himself to a goal and really ought to have had a hat trick. 19 year old Gabriel is more obviously the long term option, with Jonas now well into his thirties. With the Olympics on the horizon, he may view this has a good chance to hand Gabigol a starting role.
Especially if he is minded to bring Lucas Lima into midfield for Casemiro. Lima and Gabriel have a potent understanding at club level with Santos. That, allied with Renato Augusto and Elias’ recent partnership for Corinthians, could really create a thread of cohesion through the centre of the pitch. Peru started very quickly against Ecuador, scoring twice in the first thirteen minutes. They will look to start quickly again and capitalise on any early nerves or complacency evident in the Brazil setup.
The Seleção thumped Peru 3-0 when the sides last met in November, but coach Ricardo Gareca has brought an experimental and young squad with him to the US. Most of their players still play in their home country. But José Paolo Guerrero of Flamengo and formerly of Corinthians will be very familiar to the Brazil defence, who welcome back captain João Miranda. Not least to Gil who was a teammate of Guerrero’s at Corinthians last year. The efficient number 9 offers Peru’s most obvious threat. This promises to be an intriguing encounter in Massachusetts.
PREDICTED LINE-UP: 1.ALISSON, 2.DANI ALVES, 3.MIRANDA (c), 4.GIL, 6.FILIPE LUIS, 17.WALACE, 18.RENATO AUGUSTO, 8.ELIAS, 19.WILLIAN, 22.PHILIPPE COUTINHO, 11.GABRIEL B.
Predicted score: Brazil 2-1 Peru