PREVIEW: PERU VS COLOMBIA, THE BATTLE FOR THE BRONZE

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The fight for the bronze medal looks to be a mouth-watering clash as underdogs Peru are set to face Colombia in the third-place match of the 2021 Copa America at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia on Friday.

 

 

Peru have been quite the surprise package in this edition of the Copa America and have punched above their weights to reach the semi-finals. Their campaign started off with a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Brazil but since then they have gone unbeaten, defeating the likes of Colombia and Venezuela, and holding the fort against Ecuador in the group stage.

In the quarterfinals against Paraguay, they were able to hold their nerves in the penalty shootout and prevailed 4-3 on penalties but were not able to replicate the same in the semi-final against defending champions Brazil as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat on Monday.

 

 

On the other hand, Colombia had started off the tournament on a good note as they registered a win and a draw against Ecuador and Venezuela respectively but ended the group stage on a sour note with two defeats at the hands of Peru and Brazil.

They bounced back to defeat heavyweights Uruguay on penalties in the quarterfinal but were not able to replicate the same against favourites Argentina, losing the game 3-2 on penalties, with the score 1-1 after extra time.

 

 

The previous fixture between these two sides in the group stage saw Peru register a 2-1 win, with goals from Sergio Pena and Yerry Mina on either side of Colombia’s Miguel Borja’s penalty making the difference, and manager Ricardo Gareca will hope that his men will continue their impressive run that they displayed into this fixture.

 

TEAM NEWS

Ricardo Gareca and Peru will be happy that Alexander Callens, who had suffered a thigh injury in their game against Ecuador, had returned against Brazil and featured for the whole 90 minutes. Also, forward Andre Carrillo is set to return to the starting line-up after missing the semi-final due to a one-game suspension.

 

peru-garecaRicardo Gareca, manager of Peru. (Image Courtesy: FIFA / Website)

 

Although Gareca had set up his team in a 5-4-1 against Brazil,  he is most likely to revert back to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 against Colombia on Friday.

Peru possible starting line-up:

Gallese; Corzo, Callens, Santamaria, Trauco; Tapia, Yotun; Carrillo, Pena, Cueva; Lapadula

 

Similar to Peru, Reinaldo Rueda and Colombia will be happy that there are no new injury issues but are without Yairo Moreno who withdrew from the tournament after suffering a muscle injury during Colombia’s first game of the tournament.

 

colombia-ruedaReinaldo Rueda, manager of Colombia. (Image Courtesy: AS / Website)

 

In the recent games, Rueda has set the team up in the standard 4-4-2, and most probably he will go ahead with the same formation in the fixture for third place.

Colombia possible starting line-up:

Ospina; Medina, Mina, Sanchez, Tesillo; Cuadrado, Cuellar, Barrios, Dias; Zapata, Borre

 

GAME CHANGERS

For Peru, although the goalscoring depends upon Gianluca Lapadula, everything has to go through their talented winger Andre Carrillo. The 30-year-old, who plays for Al-Hilal in the Saudi Professional League, is the star player of this Peru side, and his absence in the game against Brazil on Monday was hugely felt as the Peruvian attack was very docile.

 

peru-carrilloCarrillo’s absence was felt in the semi-final against Brazil and he will be the key in the game against Colombia on Friday. (Image Courtesy: Andre Carrillo / Instagram)

 

Having notched up two goals and two assists, Carrillo will be his manager’s main focal point, while also hoping that wingers Christian Cueva and Sergio Pena step up and help Peru achieve third place.

 

In the absence of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado had taken the mantle of being Colombia’s star player. But slowly, that responsibility has been taken up by Luis Diaz who came into the team after missing the first two group stage games and has scored for Colombia twice, including the equaliser against Argentina in the semi-final that went to penalties.

 

 

Reinaldo Rueda will hope that the Porto winger will continue this impressive form into the game on Friday while also wanting his other attackers to have a greater impact and help the nation achieve the bronze medal.

 

PREDICTION

With both teams having reached the semi-finals, and the subsequent fixture for third place on their own merit, it is difficult to choose a winner from these two sides.

Although Colombia are filled with more talent than Peru, the Blanquirroja aren’t the usual minnows and their win against the Tricolor in the group stage might have a psychological impact on both sides. The return of Andre Carrillo will be pivotal for Peru, hence, FootTheBall says, Peru 2-1 Colombia.

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