Spotlight on Copa América 2019, the oldest continental football competition in the world. Carlos Molano follows the Brazilian event for The Cult of Calcio, providing match analysis and personal insight.
Before the Copa América 2019 started, who would have thought that Peru could reach the Final? What were the odds on any betting website? Probably not even the most optimistic Peruvian supporters would have bet any money on their side thrashing Chile 3-0 in the second Semifinal in Porto Alegre to make it to the last game for the third time in their history.
But experienced Argentinian coach Ricardo Gareca is showing the world that Peru’s qualification to World Cup 2018, 36 years after their last appearance, was not a coincidence. The former Boca Juniors and River Plate player set up a perfect trap for the Chileans: Knowing the limitations of not having any big star in his 23-player squad (not a single Peruvian player performs in a top football club), Gareca created a solid lineup in which everyone manages to show his own best version.
During the first 30 minutes, it seemed that Peru were indeed the current Copa América champion and not the other way around, as they completely neutralized the Chilean game plan. The Blanquirroja maintained the ball possession for most of the time, stunning Chile with quick passes, and constantly threatening Gabriel Arias’ goal. They dominated in all aspects of the game until they scored the first goal of the night in the 21st minute with perfect execution by Edison Flores.
Rather than protecting their lead, the Peruvians confidently looked for the second one, which they scored in the 38th minute when Chilean goalkeeper Arias ventured out of his box and got dribbled by André Carrillo. Peru’s number 18 crossed for dribble him to cross the ball for Yoshimar Yotún, whose beautiful finish moved his side to 2-0.
As expected, the Chileans desperately tried to change the situation in the second half. They did have several chances to score, especially with a header by Eduardo Vargas that hit the post, but Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese showed that he is a top-class player in his role, one who should make a move to a bigger league.
As the whole Chile side attacking in the last minutes, the Peruvians found much space for counterattacks, and during the extra time, their captain and leader Paolo Guerrero scored the 3rd goal of the night. Guerrero proved once again to be one of those players who literally transform themselves when wearing their national team jersey, performing at a much higher level than when playing for their club – think about the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, or Luca Toni.
To make the humiliation even more painful, Eduardo Vargas had a chance to reduce the gap when Chile were allowed a penalty. He decided to shoot it Panenka-style, but Pedro Gallese was waiting for it, and easily blocked the ball.
Peru triumphantly reached the Copa América Final 44 years after their last appearance in the championship match, and I believe they will be an extremely dangerous opponent for home country Brazil on Sunday.
July 4, 2019 – CONMEBOL Copa America 2019 Semifinals
SCORERS: 21′ Flores, 38′ Yotún, 91′ Guerrero
|CHILE (4-3-3): Arias; Isla, Medel, Maripán (89′ Castillo), Beausejour; Aránguiz, Pulgar, Vidal; Fuenzalida (46′ Sagal), Vargas, Sanchez (Cortés, Urra, Lichnovsky, Diaz, Contreras, Pavez, Hernandez, Jara, Fernandes, Opazo) Coach: Rueda|
|PERU (4-2-3-1): Gallese; Advíncula, Zambrano, Abram, Trauco; Tapia, Yotún; Cueva (80′ Ballón), Carrillo (71′ Polo), Guerrero; Flores (50′ Gonzáles) (Caceda, Alvarez, Corzo, Santamaria, Araujo, Ruidiaz, Pretell, Callens) Coach: Gareca|
REFEREE: Wilmar Roldan (Colombia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Pulgar, Sagal (C), Advíncula (P); Extra Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 5′