The friendly match between Peru and Brazil is of course not just a match. It is a repeat of last summer’s Copa America final, in which Brazil was crowned South America’s best football nation for the ninth time in history. Is Peru succeeding in taking revenge in Los Angeles, or is Brazil again taking the lead?
Peru pleasantly surprised me last summer. The expectation was that Los Incas would face a tough Copa America and perhaps even die in the group stage, but nothing could be further from the truth. Veterans such as Jefferson Farfan and of course Paolo Guerrero managed to recharge themselves and even lead them to the final. In the final battle, with a 3-1 victory, Brazil was clearly a size too big, but that certainly did not make the performance of the men of coach Ricardo Gareca less impressive.
The next competitive international match is only scheduled for March next year, so Gareca can do some experiments in the coming months. Both Farfan and Guerrero are not present during this international match, although the Peruvian selection is still bursting with experience. Yosimar Yotun (92 caps) and Luis Advincula (86 caps) know the tricks of the trade, while only three field players have less than thirteen international matches. Nevertheless, Peru allowed itself to eat the cheese of the bread last week by friendly losing 0-1 to Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. The red and white can also wet their breasts against Brazil.
Since the appointment of national coach Tite in the summer of 2016, it has again become a real football machine. Although the samba football of yesteryear is only sporadically seen, the country is incredibly solid. In the 43 international matches under his leadership, Brazil only had to give in twice and only allowed thirteen goals. These are statistics that even Jose Mourinho and Diego Simeone would envy. Top football, however, is about winning prizes. Also in that respect, Tite cannot go wrong for the time being, because with winning the Copa America he put an end to a price drought of no less than twelve years (excluding the Confederations Cup). The following goals are of course title pronging in next year’s Copa America in Argentina and Colombia, and World Cup win in 2022 in Qatar.
This international period is therefore primarily intended to heat up. I deliberately omit the word ‘experiment’, because Tite is not a fan of that. In the 2-2 draw against Colombia last weekend at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, we mainly saw usual names like Ederson, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Dani Alves, Roberto Firmino and of course Neymar at the kick-off. The majority of those players will also play against Peru again, because according to the generally well-established Globo Esporte, Tite will make no more than three or four changes to its basic eleven. Neymar will always be in the starting line-up, because Tite wants to give him as much playing time as possible after the recovery from his injury. The only changes that the Brazilian press expects are possibly Allan for Arthur, David Neres for Richarlison, Jorge for Alex Sandro, and Lucas Paqueta for Philippe Coutinho.