30th June 2015, the hosts, Chile, will measure forces with a superbly organized Peru at the mythical Estadio Nacional in Santiago for the very first match of Copa America Semi-finals.
Time for Chile to make a strong stand
Chile’s Quarter-finals clash against a 10-man Uruguay was a very intense one and was only decided on minute 81’, when Isla netted in a quality assist from Jorge Valdivia. The home side was in control of the operations during almost the entire match but Oscar Tabarez’ men had some good chances during quick counter-attacks, even after Edinson Cavani was shown the red card. It was, in fact, that particular situation (Cavani being sent off) that became a decisive moment for the development of the match. The Paris SG striker slapped Gonzalo Isla in the face after the Chilean defender “prodded” him on the 63rd minute of the second-half.
Chile’s game was far more fluid than the one presented by Uruguay and the ball possession percentage was clearly in favour of the tournament’s hosts (80% against just 20% from Tabarez’s boys).
Jorge Sampaoli’s work at the helm of the Chilean National Team has been somewhat remarkable and the team’s tactical evolution becomes more evident as the matches go by. Chile have presented a defensive line with just three men during the World Cup, but because of the obvious risks a team takes when playing with just three men behind, the South American La Roja “evolved” into something similar to a 4-3-1-2 style, a slight but also effective variation of the classical diamond shaped 4-4-2.
As for Peru, it is fair to say that they probably are the most pleasant surprise of the 44th edition of Copa America so far. Ricardo Gareca has been spearheading a brilliant job at the helm of Los Incas and their recent displays in the tournament are a living proof of that. In their Quarter-finals’ clash against Bolivia, Peru pulled rank and were in control for large periods of the match. Their experienced forward Paolo Guerrero sealed a splendid hat-trick and booked a place for his team in the Semi-finals.
Although still miles away from their 1970s fantastic team, where players such as Teofilo Cubillas and Hugo Sotil turned the page of Peruvian football forever, this “new” Peru of Ricardo Gareca is a solid and very organized team, capable of causing some trouble to the big dogs of South American football.