Copa America Group B: A Path For Peru To Advance

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(Editorial) – The Peru National Team are in first place of Group B of the Copa America Centenario, albeit with only one game played by each team. Los Incas won 1-0 over Haiti on Saturday, dominating from the run of play. Ecuador and Brazil played to a 0-0 draw, but are still heavy favorites to advance out of the group. Is there a path for Peru to advance out of the group? Let’s break it down.

Copa America Group B: A Path For Peru To Advance

First off, the opening weekend was good for Peru. They got three points on Haiti, effectively eliminating Haiti in the process. While Haiti made some noise in the 2015 Gold Cup in finishing second in their group, they’re clearly the worst team in this group. So Peru took care of business.

Even though they only won 1-0, the performance was much more lopsided. Peru outshot Haiti 10-5 (5-1 on goal). Haiti made the match a bit of a slog with their defensive soccer, but Los Incas were able to break them down on several occasions.

Peru was a bit unlucky with Brazil and Ecuador drawing. If the Peruvians are to advance out of Copa America Group B, it will most certainly be in finishing second. Having one team get on the front foot and a clear target not getting a point would have benefited them.

This Wednesday, Brazil plays Haiti at 7:30 pm EST in Orlando, FL. Peru plays Ecuador at 8:00 pm EST in Glendale, AZ. Brazil and Ecuador will most definitely both beat Haiti. Assuming Haiti loses all three games, Peru could advance with two draws and a better goal differential than one of Brazil or Ecuador. Not likely as they only beat Haiti 1-0 and Brazil and Ecuador could easily blow the Haitians out.

Peru probably needs to upset one of the giants. A result on Wednesday against Ecuador would be good but is not necessary. They have a much better chance against a younger and possibly more vulnerable Brazil team. The plan should be to try and eke out a result against Ecuador. Then focus on Brazil based on the results after Wednesday night.

If Peru is to advance, it will have to be through their captain and starting center forward, Paolo Guerrero. Guerrero scored the goal against Haiti and is the most veteran player on their Copa roster (68 caps at the international level).

Ecuador and Brazil will easily win the possession battle against Peru (Haiti only lost the possession battle with 48.8%). Counter attacking with long balls to the head and feet of Guerrero will be critical. Peru will have space on the flans against Ecuador’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

No. 10 Christian Cueva must be able to distribute the ball to the flanks and to Guerrero will be critical to relieve pressure and try and create offense. On the defensive side of the ball, center back Alberto Rodriguez will need to organize the shape of the team and fend off Miller Bolaños and company. Yoshimar Yotún could be a critical substitute off the bench in the second half as well.

If these four players show up, Peru will have a shot at getting a 0-0 or 1-1 draw against Ecuador.

Without knowing the situation going into the Brazil match, Peru’s biggest concern might be available players. Yellow card accumulation is set at two for this tournament. Three Peruvians received yellow cards in the game against Haiti: Guerrero, Rodriguez, and Yotún (three of their most important attacking players).

That is significant. Head coach Ricardo Gareco will have to manage his subs so that his big players do not risk getting a yellow card that would get them suspended for the match against Brazil. This may force Gareco to risk losing to Ecuador in order to have a chance to beat Brazil.

It might not be pretty, but in a tournament with three group stage games, anything is possible. Peru might have just enough talent to pull it off, especially with the way the schedule was set up, and with Brazil being younger and less experienced.