Chile will face surprise package Peru in the second semi-final of the 2019 edition of Copa America which is to take place at Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre. The match will be an all-Pacific clash in which the two strongest footballing nations on the Pacific coast will fight for supremacy. Their duel may not sound as appealing as the Brazil versus Argentina Superclasico de las Americas match, but it will certainly provide just as many thrills on and off the pitch for both fans and neutrals.
Chile goes into this match after managing to beat a very strong Colombia side in the quarter-finals on penalties. The Colombians won all of their group matches but were unable to outscore the Chileans on penalties. Winning on penalties has become a strong point for the Chileans as they have won both of their last two Copa America titles after shootouts against Argentina.
The Peruvians on the other hand had a much less impressive Copa America campaign and managed to qualify to the semi-final after triumphing against Uruguay on penalties themselves.
Penalty shootouts and VAR disallowed goals have been prominent themes of the quarter-final duels this year with Brazil, Chile, and Peru progressing to the semi-final courtesy of penalty shootouts and lots of goals chalked off after consulting the VAR control room.
Can the Chileans Make it Three Titles in a Row?
Chile won both of the last two editions of Copa America and will certainly be looking to make it three titles in a row in Brazil. However, in order to do that they will have to go past a resilient Peru side which will give its best to prevent their fierce rivals from achieving their aim.
The Chileans started their 2019 Copa America campaign very strongly. In their first match, they won convincingly 4:0 against Japan and sent a strong signal to nations such as Brazil and Argentina that they were also a strong contender to win the tournament.
Their second match against Ecuador wasn’t won as convincingly as the first one, but that victory was enough to earn qualification for the elimination round for the Chileans.
Chile’s last group match against Uruguay was the group-winner deciding match, but it was also a match in which it was evident that Chile wasn’t going with all guns blazing as they had already secured qualification.
The fact that they lost that match meant that they had to face a very strong Colombia side, while Uruguay was given arguably the easier opponent in Peru.
However, if there is one thing that this Copa America campaign has shown that is that there are no heavy underdogs. All teams who participated in the tournament, including the likes of Qatar and Japan played on par with the best on the continent.
Consequently, Chile managed to go through to the semi-finals by beating Colombia, a team which collected 9 points in the group stage and overpowered a Messi-led Argentina side, while Uruguay was eliminated by Peru, a team which lost 5:0 to Brazil.
Bet on Chile to win - Betfred 1.91, LeoVegas 1.88
A Testing Quarter Final Copa America 2019
However, Chile had to work hard to qualify for the semi-final. The match was a typically difficult Copa America elimination round duel in which both teams were trying not to concede as they knew that conceding a goal would spell the end for their chances of progression to the next round.
In spite of this, Chile still managed to create several nice chances and had no less than two goals disallowed after VAR deemed them as irregular. This meant that the match winner was going to be decided after the penalty shootout.
Lots of people think that penalty shootouts are basically Russian roulette- a type of contests in which the team with the most of luck triumphs at the end. However, this Chile team is a living and breathing proof that this isn’t always the case.
They managed to win both the 2015 and 2016 finals against Argentina after penalties were taken and both of those matches were tough and testing affairs. In addition, similarly to the Chile – Colombia match, they both ended 0:0.
This meant that as far as the psychological advantage goes the Chileans were feeling far better coming into the penalty shootout than the Colombians. Furthermore, Colombia recently went through a very negative penalty shootout experience at last year’s World Cup when they lost on penalties to England. This, coupled with Chile’s love of penalties meant that Alexis Sanchez and co had a crucial advantage even before the shootout had started.
Chile’s penalties reaffirmed this and then some. All of Chile’s five penalty takers managed to find their target and all of them did it in style. The last and deciding penalty was taken by Alexis Sanchez, who coolly put the Chileans through to the semi-final.
Peru – Stumbling Their Way to the Knock Out Rounds
Peru managed to get to the semi-final with only one full-time victory. The only match they won was their second-round group duel against Bolivia. They won that match 3:1 with Guerrero, Flores and Farfan scoring the goals.
In addition to that match being their only regular time victory, those were also the only goals they scored in the tournament so far. This is because their first match against Venezuela was a goalless draw, just like the quarter-final draw with Uruguay and their third round group match was that infamous 5:0 trashing at the hands of Brazil.
Blessing in Disguise
However, that 5:0 loss actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Peruvians as they ended up playing against Uruguay and not Argentina in the quarter-finals. Many people will say that the Uruguayans are currently stronger than the Argentineans and that’s probably the case, but the fact that Peru managed to win that match means that someone in the skies was looking out for Gareca’s men.
The Peruvians knew that they had little chance of competing with the Uruguayans if they attempted to outplay them, so they decided to try to stay compact and hope for quick counter attacks. That worked for them to some extent as Paulo Guerrero was put clear twice, but failed to make the most of those chances.
That was pretty much everything the Peruvians did in the match considering that they failed to record a single shot on goal and had Uruguay’s wastefulness and VAR to thank for the match ending as a draw in regular time. This was because Uruguay had two goals disallowed after VAR was used and both Cavani and Godin missed two golden chances to put the Uruguayans through to the semi-final.
At the end of the day, luck was on Peru’s side and they managed to eliminate Copa America’s most successful nation after scoring all of their five penalties and Luis Suarez missing his.
Bet on Peru to win - Betfred 4.8, LeoVegas 4.7
Chile to Win It
Peru’s luck has kept them in the tournament for now, but the fact of the matter is that they have been playing quite poorly. Nations such as Colombia, Uruguay, and even Venezuela would have been much more deserving of a semi-final spot. However, Peru used whatever luck they could get coming their way and also played all of their cards right meaning that they are only one step away from the final.
That will probably not happen though, as it will be a step too far for Guerrero and co. The best that the Peruvians can hope for in the match is to keep Chile’s explosive attack of Vargas and Sanchez at bay and then hope that they can hit them on the break.
However, Peru’s attack is definitely not the fastest one out there and it is difficult to imagine how they can go past the Chileans other than playing with a draw in mind and then hoping that they can win on penalties.
The Chileans will definitely not mind that, even though they would probably prefer to go through after 90 minutes. However, with their recent positive experiences from penalty shootouts, you simply cannot imagine Rueda’s men not relishing the penalty roulette. Regular time victory or penalty shootouts, Chile will probably be a 2019 Copa America finalist come Thursday.