Saransk (Russia), June 15 (IANS) Peru will take on Denmark in a Group C match which will be their first FIFA World Cup encounter after a gap of 36 years at the Mordovia Arena here on Saturday.
Peru had appeared in the FIFA World Cup for the last time in 1982 and in their comeback match, they face an opponent who is also making a comeback after missing out on the 2014 edition.
A victory in the first game will go a long way to guaranteeing the winner’s place in the knockout phase since unheralded Australia are expected to struggle.
The South American nation, coached by Ricardo Gareca, overcame Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay to qualify for Russia after finishing fifth in the South American group and then overcoming New Zealand in the intercontinental play-off.
Peru conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017 — which speaks volumes of their strong defensive structure and hard work.
Peru will head to Russia with their talismanic captain Paolo Guerrero after almost missing him due to a doping ban. The 33-year-old, who has been capped 86 times by his country, scored six goals in qualifying.
His hopes of playing at the World Cup appeared to have been dashed by the doping ban, which was overturned after the captains of France, Denmark and Australia — the other teams in Group C — appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Watford’s Andre Carrillo and Lokomotiv Moscow’s Jefferson Farfan have been picked to spearhead the attack.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and defender Alberto Rodriguez also made the cut despite still recovering from injuries. Both were key starters during the team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Although lacking in individual brilliance, Peru will be hoping their ability to adapt to different conditions serves them well in Russia. The players have already shown through qualifying that they can handle everything from the altitude of the Andean mountains to the heat of the Amazon jungle.
Their opponent Denmark boasts of depth and, in Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Christian Eriksen, world class talent, even if there are question marks over the team’s attack.
Denmark coach Age Hareide is likely to adopt a 4-3-3 formation, continuing the formula used in his team’s 5-1 thrashing of Ireland last November.
On that occasion, Eriksen was the star of the show, bagging a hat-trick as the team secured a place in Russia.
The Spurs No. 23 will be joined in Denmark’s midfield by Werder Bremen’s Thomas Delaney, who enjoyed an impressive 2017-18 season in the Bundesliga.
Celta Vigo’s Pione Sisto is another ace up Hareide’s sleeve. The 23-year-old was something of a revelation in La Liga last season with nine assists and can be used as an attacking midfielder, winger or second striker.
The defence also looks solid with a centre-back pairing of Andreas Bjelland and captain Simon Kjaer. In goal is Kasper Schmeichel, the son of Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel.
However Denmark’s attack does not look quite as impressive. Options include Nicolai Jorgensen, Niklas Bendtner, Andreas Cornelius and Kasper Dolberg.
One of the advantages for Denmark is their taller players against the Peruvians.