The big match
Peru-Brazil, Estadio Nacional (Lima)
Ricardo Gareca knows Peru’s opening-day draw in Paraguay will look even better if his side can build on it with a result against Brazil at home. The coach is expected to stick with his trusted 4-3-3 formation despite the attacking prowess shown by his opponents in their opener.
It is worth remembering that, although they twice lost out to Brazil at the Copa America 2019, including in the final, the Peruvians won their last meeting: a September 2019 friendly in the USA.
For Brazil coach Tite, “all those results are in the past”. Nor is he worried that Neymar was not on the score-sheet in the 5-0 rout of Bolivia: “He fulfilled his responsibilities by getting on the ball and being creative. Football is a team sport.”
Peru have never won a World Cup qualifier against Brazil. Their record stands at four draws and seven defeats, while they have lost their last three attempts without scoring.
After their narrow opening-round victory, Argentina visit a still-reeling Bolivia in La Paz, historically not the happiest of hunting grounds for La Albiceleste. All told, they have won there three times in this competition, but not since 2005. In the intervening years, Messi and Co have come away with one draw and two defeats, including a chastening 6-1 reverse in 2009. Cesar Farias is expected to make several changes to the home side, including starting the veteran Marcelo Martins up front.
Uruguay, who also kicked off their campaign with a victory, have an equally challenging trip to Quito to face Ecuador. Oscar Tabarez’s side will be without the injured Giorgian De Arrascaeta but are expected to bring in another centre-forward to accompany Luis Suarez. La Tri, who have won their last two home qualifiers against Uruguay, could make up to five changes as they search for the attacking threat that was missing in last week’s reverse to Argentina.
Meanwhile, in Santiago, Chile welcome Colombia with La Roja keen to make amends for their loss last week in Uruguay. Reinaldo Rueda has Mauricio Isla available again after the veteran defender recovered from COVID-19 – an option worth considering given Los Cafeterors impressive forward play on Matchday 1. Aside from the injured Santiago Arias, it remains to be seen if there will be any other changes to the team that put three goals past Venezuela.
Speaking of Venezuela, they will be hoping to put that shaky start behind them when they welcome Paraguay to Merida. The latter had the chance to take all three points in their opener but in the end had to settle for one. “It’s not a question of being more offensive or defensive, but of finding the right balance,” said Vinotinto coach Jose Peseiro, who has the option of starting with attacking midfielder Yeferson Soteldo. His opposite number, Eduardo Berizzo, is also weighing up changes, including that of starting with forward Angel Romero.
Player to watch
Marcelo Moreno Martins (Bolivia)
The 33-year-old Bolivian striker is one of the players who Cesar Farias will have earmarked to face Argentina – and not without good reason. Of the five occasions he has faced La Albiceleste in World Cup qualifiers, he has scored in four of them.
Did you know?
This Tuesday, Colombian Reinaldo Rueda will be facing his country of birth for the seventh time in his coaching career. He has met them twice with current side Chile (two draws), three times with Ecuador (one win and two defeats) and once with Honduras (win).