Chile v Peru – Arena do Grêmio at 01:30 GMT+1 live at Premier Sports
Chile and Peru meet in Porto Alegre on Wednesday night for a place in the Copa America final. The modest South American nations have enjoyed unheralded success this decade – Chile winning their first two senior titles and Peru returning to the World Cup after a 36-year absence – playing exciting football.
However, there’s a fair argument to suggest these two rivals might serve up a stinker. For starters, neither nation has even scored in their last two outings, whilst the final-four showdown is taking place at the Gremio Arena’s ploughed field where various players and management have rightly criticised the surface.
Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing contest to call. Pre-tournament Chile appeared the most likely established side to falter with Peru talked up as potential dark horses. But by analysing the action over the previous four games in Brazil, such assessments have been wide of the mark and it’s now difficult to oppose Chile.
Chile make significant tweaks
Chile’s head coach Reinaldo Rueda deserves immense credit for fending off demanding supporters and media pressure over the past 12 months to deliver a series of eye-catching efforts. La Roja are on the brink of reaching a third successive Copa America final with Rueda’s tweaks proving key.
The ageing outfit are adaptable in their system and are now capable of defending deeper, whilst adding much-needed height to the side through Guillermo Maripan at centre-back, plus the energetic Erick Pulgar in midfield. Chile are slightly more cautious but still boast quality across their park to hurt teams.
Gabriel Arias was a spectator last time out as La Roja restricted Colombia to just 0.25 Expected Goals (xG) in their quarter-final tie, and could have claimed victory comfortably had VAR not intervened to deny Rueda’s troops two goals. Crucially too, Alexis Sanchez looks to have refound his form and fitness.
Peru’s luck to run out?
Peru are one game away from the final despite failing to score in three of their four fixtures. La Blanquirroja have won just one game en-route to this stage, and that came against Bolivia, one of the worst teams in the tournament. Two goalless draws and a 5-0 capitulation to Brazil complete their portfolio.
With Jefferson Farfan injured, head coach Ricardo Gareca left skipper and striker Paolo Guerrero up top on his own against Uruguay in the quarter-finals and Peru offered next to nothing in attack. Christian Cueva and Andre Carillo were unable to make an impact and Los Incas managed a solitary attempt from inside the box.
Fortunately for Peru, Uruguay missed two sitters and saw two goals ruled out by VAR which took the tussle to extra-time. Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was La Blanquirroja’s hero, although it’s difficult to see how Gareca’s group can continue to progress off such fine margins. The side has won just four times in 14 outings since last summer’s World Cup, seemingly abandoning their attacking approach.
La Roja are fair favourites
Both Chile and Peru have been involved in thrilling, fiery affairs in recent years, suggesting Wednesday night’s match-up could get spicy. The two nations have also enjoyed relative success on the field, but it’s much easier to make a solid case for supporting La Roja at 1.98 based on the last three weeks’ evidence.
Elsewhere, the layers are again expecting a tight, low-scoring battle but there could be value in blindly supporting goals and opposing the media narrative. Over the past 10 tournaments since 1993, 85% of Copa America semi-finals have produced at least two goals, which makes Over 1.75 Goals appeal at 1.70.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Chile -0.50 at 1.980
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.