Peru v Brazil preview
Thus far, they haven’t so much as fallen behind in a match under his tutelage. The only goal that they have conceded was an own goal against Colombia in a game that they won in Manaus. Tite almost sounded disappointed when he said he had expected the Argentina clash to be more of a challenge for his team. He knows that adversity is the true measuring stick of a side worth its salt and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
The bigger they are the harder they fall, as the old adage goes. Brazil’s confidence is sky high at the moment, but confidence is at its most fragile at its threshold. The manager knows that his team will have to come from behind or grind out a result sooner or later. Peru are better placed to challenge Brazil than they appeared to be a fortnight ago. Having not won an away qualifier since 2004, they had the result of their recent away defeat to Bolivia reversed after the home side fielded and ineligible player.
An administrative process handed them a win by default in La Paz. But on Thursday night, Ricardo Careca’s men made the jump from paperwork to the pitch, dismantling Paraguay 4-1 in Asuncion. The win leaves them just three points off of the qualification places and suddenly, they are back in the picture. Flamengo striker José Paolo Guerrero will know his opponents very well, as will creative midfielder Christian Cueva, who has been one of the few lights of a disappointing São Paulo side this season.
So two teams high on confidence meet and Tite might be happy for his side’s mettle to be tested, with qualification from the group now looking like a formality. He has a single enforced change to make, with left-back Marcelo suspended, Filipe Luis will come in. It is likely that the rest of his starting line-up will be unchanged. Renato Augusto and Paulinho effectively swapped sides on Thursday to deal with Lionel Messi, so it will be interesting to see if that pattern holds or whether they revert, with Renato diligently plugging the gaps left by Coutinho’s license to wander in from the right.
Guerrero remains Peru’s biggest threat, but Christian Cueva in behind him will need to be eagerly watched by Fernandinho. Defensive midfielder Reinaldo Talia and left-back Miguel Trauco are missing for Peru and Brazil will be confident about testing the home side’s resolve. Coutinho and Neymar have begun to demonstrate a slick understanding, swapping sides between left and right at will, to complement the telepathy that Neymar and Gabriel Jesús developed during the Olympics in August.
The atmosphere will be intense in Lima and Peru are more equipped for this match than they have been at any point during qualifying- though in fairness, Peru did knock Brazil out of the Copa América with a 1-0 win in Boston in June. It will be interesting to see how Brazil respond, were they to fall behind or else suffer adversity in the shape of a refereeing error or similar. Their confidence is at its zenith and they remain hot favourites for this game, but Tite will be hoping for a thorough examination. Now, Brazil can just start to peak behind the curtain and think ahead to Russia in 2018 and the more tested they are in the interim, the more ready they will be.
Predicted line-up; 1.ALISSON, 4.DANI ALVES, 3.MIRANDA, 13.MARQUINHOS, 6.FILIPE LUIS, 5.FERNANDINHO, 8.RENATO AUGUSTO, 15.PAULINHO, 11.COUTINHO, 10.NEYMAR, 9.G.JESUS.
Predicted score: Peru 0 Brazil 1 (Neymar).