Copa America: Hosts Brazil look to shut down Peru’s ‘upset’ threats
The unpredictable Copa America 2019 has finally reached its climax, as hosts Brazil take on underdogs Peru in a high-stakes final at the Maracana on Sunday. With history on their side, the Samba Boys are out to thwart the imminent threat posed by Los Incas.
The Seleção started their campaign on a lumpy note, but quickly got hold of themselves to remain the only side to concede a goal in the competition. In the absence of Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus shouldered the goalscoring responsibilities to keep Brazil on the road towards their first Copa success since 2007. Tite’s men have been defensively rigid but have also scored seven goals en route to the final, as it was in the 2-0 victory over rivals Argentina in the semi-final. The Samba Boys, odds-on favourites to claim the crown, have beaten Peru earlier in the group stages, but the Dani Alves-led unit are aware of the ‘possible upset’ threat from Paolo Guerrero’s troop.
Under the tutelage of Ricardo Gareca, Los Incas have got themselves on the sporting map once again and are in their first Copa America final in 44 years. Semi-finalists in 2015 and 2016, Peru were at the World Cup finals in 2018 after a 36-year hiatus. The Paolo Guerrero-led La Blanquirroja were humbled 5-0 by eventual finalists Brazil but they quickly bounced back with victories over tournament favourites Uruguay and holders Chile. While Peru are clear underdogs in the finale clash, one could just hope that the ’75 winners reprise their semi-final exploits and possibly cause the greatest upset in the history of the South American extravaganza.
Words: William Paul