Uruguay v Peru – Itaipava Fonte Nova Arena at 20:00 GMT+1 live at Premier Sports

Uruguay were expected to make a strong claim for Copa America glory this summer and La Celeste will be relatively pleased by their performances during the pool-phase of the competition after topping Group C ahead of Chile. Even so, head coach Oscar Tabarez still believes there’s plenty to work on.

The South Atlantic nation made swift work of Ecuador in their opener before surprisingly being held by Japan despite their relative dominance. Selecting a full-strength side against Chile helped secure maximum points and top spot but Uruguay were far from comfortable in the opening exchanges of that encounter.

Chile’s formation shift came as a surprise for Tabarez’s troops and his team were getting exposed on the flanks. Uruguay might operate with two world class centre-backs and centre-forwards but the age-old conundrum since their 2014 World Cup exit has been finding a suitable system for the midfield.

La Celeste’s boss had been attempting to implement a new-look approach with wingers in 2019. It worked a treat against Ecuador but largely exposed in the opening 45 minutes against Chile with Uruguay clearly lacking available personnel to fill the wide berths. Their quality is concentrated on the centre.

Uruguay too good to ignore

If Tabarez can iron out the issues ahead of a quarter-final showdown with Peru, Uruguay are major contenders for the outright crown. La Celeste are only behind market favourites Brazil across all the major performance data metrics and arrive in Salvador off the back of 13 wins from 19 outings since the start of 2018.

It’s easy to forget that Uruguay were the better side when exiting the World Cup 12 months ago against France and should Tabarez’s troops continue hitting those consistently high performance levels, they should not be underestimated. And La Celeste look too good to ignore at 1.71 here against Peru too.

Peru in need of a reset

Peru were unfortunate not to have more than four points on the board before facing Brazil in their last Group A outing. Los Incas deserved victory against Venezuela in their opening encounter, although Ricardo Gareca’s men folded in that final fixture with the Samba Boys and are now in need of a complete reset.

It was easily the worst display at the 2019 tournament and Peru were lucky Brazil didn’t rack up double-figures. Pundits had suggested Gareca’s standard 4-2-3-1 formation had become too ponderous and predictable and his midfield shields of Renato Tapia and Yoshimar Yotun were ruthlessly exposed.

To make matters worse, veteran forward Jefferson Farfan has now been ruled out of the competition through injury, whilst rumours are rife that Andre Carrillo’s lack of involvement has been due to ill-discipline in the camp. Suddenly this exciting outfit is looking decidedly vulnerable coming into the last-eight.

Peru have registered only four triumphs from 13 since their return to the World Cup last summer and the key question coming into Saturday night appears to be, can Los Incas wipe the memory of their Brazilian battle and refocus ahead of what’s expected to be a devilishly difficult showdown? My hunch is, they can’t.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Uruguay -0.50 at 1.710

Preview by: @MarkOHaire.

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