Venezuela and Peru face each other in Porto Alegre in the second match in hosts Brazil’s Group A as the 2019 Copa America gets underway.
Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Key Stat: Peru have not won a match in which they have conceded since March 2018.
Expert Verdict: Venezuela proved they can make a mark on this tournament when they beat Argentina in a friendly but they still go into their opening game against Peru as outsiders. Salomon Rondon is in good form, and Peru have not won matches in which they have conceded since March 2018, but Los Incas will still expect to make a winning start to this tournament.
Adalberto Penaranda will miss the tournament through injury, but Venezuela otherwise have a strong and experienced line-up at their disposal for the tournament opener. Yeferson Soteldo has been called up in place of the Watford man. After beating the USA in their final warm-up match, it is likely to be the same team that started that game that faces Peru.
Salomon Rondon – Two goals in the win against the USA extended his good form this season and he now has 24 goals from 73 international appearances.
Jhon Murillo – Assisted the opening goal from the left-wing last time out and has four himself at international level too.
Thomas Rincon – The hugely experienced Torino midfielder has now won 95 Venezuela caps, and the captain marked the last one with an assist in the win against the USA.
Venezuela’s recent form is sandwiched by two impressive friendly wins – their 3-1 victory against Argentina in Spain and, last time out, a 3-0 win in the USA thanks to Samuel Rondon’s double and Jefferson Savarino’s strike. In between, they lost an unofficial friendly 2-1 to Catalonia and a much-changed team drew 1-1 with Ecuador. Prior to facing the USA, they also lost 3-1 to Mexico despite Jhon Murillo opening the scoring.
Defenders:Roberto Rosales, Jhon Chancellor, Mikel Villanueva, Luis Mago
Defensive Midfielders:Thomas Rincon, Yangel Herrera
Attacking Midfielders:Jefferson Savarino, Junior Moreno, Jhon Murillo
Paolo Hurtado has been replaced by Alexis Arias in the Peru squad ahead of the tournament due to injury. Hurtado joins Pedro Aquino in missing out, but captain Paolo Guerrero has proved his form and match fitness and is likely to lead the line. As was the case at the World Cup, that could mean Jefferson Farfan missing out. Yoshimar Yotun came in for a lot of criticism from coach Ricardo Gareca for his red card in the final friendly against Colombia. If he is dropped, Jesus Pretell could earn a surprise start.
Paolo Guerrero – Scored in each of the last two matches against Venezuela and the Peruvian captain will look to add to his 35 international goals in what could be his swansong.
Christian Cueva – Scored Peru’s last two goals, both of which were match winners, against Peru and Costa Rica.
Edison Flores – With Andre Carrillo coming in for criticism on the opposite flank and Paolo Hurtado ruled out through injury, Flores will need to deliver on the right wing.
Peru have lost three of their last four matches, including the 3-2 defeat to Costa Rica in November. Edison Flores and Jefferson Farfan scored Peru’s goals in that game. They bounced back by beating Paraguay in March, with Christian Cueva scoring the only goal, but they lost their most recent friendly 2-0 to El Salvador.
Defenders:Luis Advincula, Anderson Santamaria, Miguel Araujo, Miguel Trauco
Defensive Midfielders:Renato Tapia, Jesus Pretell
Attacking Midfielders:Edison Flores, Christian Cueva, Andre Carrillo
Peru have won 20 of their 34 previous matches against Venezuela, but their two most recent meetings – during qualifying for the last World Cup – both ended in 2-2 draws. There have been six draws in total in this fixture, and eight Venezuelan wins. Paolo Guerrero and Raul Ruidiaz earned Peru a point in their first meeting during the last World Cup qualifiers, after Romulo Otero and Mikel Villanueva had put Venezuela 2-0 up. The two Venezuelans did the same in the reverse fixture too, only for Andre Carrillo and Guerrero to earn another 2-2 draw.
The last two matches between these two sides have ended in draws and, as is often the case at the start of an international tournament, that could be a marker of what to expect from this one too.
Both teams know they are competing for second place in the group behind Brazil and both have showed with some recent results they are capable of earning it.
Peru still have the edge, however – the last few years has seen a marked upturn in results, including their World Cup qualification, and they will look to add another good global tournament showing to the record books.
Salomon Rondon is likely to be key to Venezuela’s hopes – he will lead the line up front and, with Peru’s recent form showing no success in games in which they have conceded, a goal could be vital.
But Peru have also won plenty of games to nil in that time, with Christian Cueva proving their match winner.
They also now have iconic striker and captain Paolo Guerrero back in the squad and back to match fitness in time for the tournament after his doping ban.
There could be very little between these two teams, but Peru are slight favourites for a reason and an early win will boost their chances of going far in the 2019 Copa America.
Peru are favourites to beat Venezuela and start the tournament with a win, and can be backed at 11/8 with Bet365, Betfair and Ladbrokes.
Given the often cagey starts teams make to major tournaments, however, a Peru-Draw double chance could be a safer bet at a best price of 7/20 with Bet365, Betway and 888sport.
Peru’s more recent wins have all been to nil but, with Salomon Rondon in good form, Venezuela have scored three times against both Argentina and the USA recently. Both teams to score has been set at 23/20 with Betfair.
Rondon is 11/5 to score at any time for Venezuela with Bet365, while returning captain Paolo Guerrero is 2/1 for Peru.
Venezuela and Peru start their 2019 Copa America against each other and Peru are slight favourites – though there could be very little between them.