World Cup Preview: Australia v Peru

Who? Australia - Peru
Where? Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
When? June 26, 16:00 (CET local time)

Australia (Yossi Medina)

If someone thought a few months ago to tell the Australian squad that they may qualify for the round of 16, they will probably tell you that you are completely insane. Australia had a bad qualification campaign and only playoff wins against Syria and Honduras gave them the tickets to Russia. Now they only need to defeat Peru and hope that France will defeat Denmark in order to qualify.

It's been a while since Australia won against a South American team in an official match. It was in the 2001 Confederations Cup against Brazil. Since then, Australia keep failing against teams from South America in two World Cup games (Brazil in 2006 and Chile in 2014) and two more in the Confederations Cup (Argentina in 2005 and Chile in 2017).

Another thing that the Australians will look for is scoring from an open play. Their two goals in this tournament were scored by Mile Jedinak from the penalty spot. Moreover, their last goal in 2014 was also a penalty scored by Jedinak. It means that their last open play goal was actually the incredible volley kick of Tim Cahill against Netherlands.

No matter if Australia will qualify or not, winning against Peru could bring a massive support to the Australian football (even though they prefer to call it soccer). It can be the great finish for the World Cup campaign, with a hope for more success in the future.

Peru (Omri Tancman)

After Peru’s match against France, Peru lost any chance to qualify to the next stage. Peru’s goal for the game against Australia is mainly to hold the line and to give a positive performance. The task will not be easy when considering the history of Peru in last games in their previous performances in World Cups. Two of these most remembered games were in Spain 1982 and in Argentina 1978. In 1982 Peru lost 5-1 to the host Spain while in 1978 Peru lost 6-0 to Argentina.

This game is still remembered for bad reasons. Argentina had to beat Peru by a difference of at least 4 goals in order to proceed to the next stage. This game is still an open wound in the history of Peruvian soccer. According to the alleged claims, the result was fixed and in return Argentina was supposed to help Peru during operation Condor. The “deal” was that in return to Peru’s help during the match, Peru will send a few dissidents to Argentina which will get rid of them afterwards. These rumours were never confirmed and until today it remains as one of the most shameful moments of Peruvian football.

For Peruvians, those dark days are something everyone wishes to forget and nowadays the aim is to build for the future. As Peru’s Argentinian coach, Ricardo Gareca stated, “The events in this World Cup will help Peru grow”. In fact, when facing future challenges such as the Copa America 2019 and the World Cup of 2022, Peru has a young generation, boosted with experienced players such as Farfan and Guerrero. This squad is supposed to learn from the current experience and build on it for the future. A respectable performance against Australia can be a good start.

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World Cup Preview: France v Peru

Who? France - Peru
Where? Yekaterimburg Arena, Yekaterinburg
When? June 21, 17:00 (CET local time)


In a recent article published by L’equipe, the French national team was analyzed according to the different ties and friendships of its players between them. Surprisingly or not, two of the main men were Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba. Both players are very close to many other players in the French squad and especially between each other. For example, on May 29th, Pogba invited Griezmann to a dinner at his mother’s house.

It seems that for many, the quality of the French squad and players such as Pogba and Griezmann by itself is enough to achieve great results this summer in Russia. One common saying is that with this abundance of talent French players do not need a coach, and if they do need one, Deschamps isn’t the right coach. According to some of the critics coach Deschamps doesn’t have enough quality in order to guide his players to success. These critics were even louder after the weak performance of ‘Les Bleus’ against Australia. In fact, the richness of talent in the French squad enables Deschamps to still experiment and probably change formation ahead of France’s game against Peru.

However, no matter what the formation will be, two players who are certain to start in the opening 11 are Pogba and Griezmann. These two superstars have already known ups and downs in their careers, good and bad managers and moments of success alongside moments of despair. But what they probably know is that Deschamps instructions and game plan may be important, but nonetheless the success of the French team relies heavily on their connection and linkage both in matches and after them. The upcoming game against Peru can be their opportunity to demonstrate it.


One of the most significant and moving phenomena of the first week of this world cup is the presence of South American fans in Russia. Thousands of supporters from all over Latin America have crowded Russian cities. Their effect was not overlooked by the players as well. As Miguel Trauco, Peru’s left back stated after Peru’s defeat against Denmark “It is beautiful to see 30 thousand Peruvians here in Russia. We will do everything in order to win for them.”

One important figure that can improve their chances to do so is Paolo Guerrero. After being linked with so many affairs and registered to the squad in the last minute, Peru’s captain and all time goal scoring leader was sitting on the bench in Peru’s first match against Denmark. However, against France, Guerrero is supposed to start and lead his fellow teammates against Griezmann, Pogba and their fellows.

Other than his goal scoring ability, Guerrero brings to the pitch a lot of grit and toughness. As the leader of the South American Qualification campaign in challenges and attacking aerial duels, Guerrero is no stranger to combat and dedication. These qualities, with the support of the Peruvian army of fans, may lead Peru to a surprise against France. You may say Peru fans are dreamers but as this world cup already demonstrates, they are not the only ones.

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World Cup Preview: Peru v Denmark

Who? Peru - Denmark
Where? Mordovia Arena, Saransk
When? June 16, 18:00 (CET local time)

Peru (Omri Tancman)

Probably as a preparation for its first match ever against Denmark, Peru played several friendlies against Nordic teams. On March 28th, Peru has beaten Iceland 3-1 and on June 9th, Peru finished in a 0-0 draw its match against Sweden. In both games two of the players that excelled are Renato Tapia and Jefferson Farfan.

For many, and for a reason, Paolo Guerrero is the main man for Peru. However, two players that should be noticed are Farfan and Tapia. Farfan on one hand, is an experienced journeyman and in many ways he has a very important role this summer for Peru. The scorer led Lokomotiv Moscow to winning the Russian title this year, after 14 years. His experience in European football and knowledge with Russian culture may present some important value exceeding beyond the boundaries of the pitch itself.

Compared to Farfan, Tapia on the other hand is a young promising player. Nevertheless, like Farfan he is well familiar with European football and especially in the Netherlands. Tapia has played in the Netherlands since 2013 for Twente and since 2015 he is a Feyenoord player. This experience should help him cope with Danish players and tackle their game. The Dutch league is home in recent years for many Danish players, such as Christian Eriksen, current Tottenham star that emerged in Ajax, and Denmark first-team striker, Nicolai Jorgensen, Tapia’s fellow teammate.

Denmark is considered by many as the favorite in this clash. However, Peru’s recent history against Nordic teams, Farfan’s experience in Russia and Tapia’s acquaintance with Danish players may result altogether to a bright start for the Peruvian campaign in group C.

Denmark (Yossi Medina)

After missing the last World Cup, Denmark is back and they want to show some of their talent in Russia. Denmark is coming with some of the leading players in the European football such as Christian Eriksen of Tottenham and Lasse Schone of Ajax.

Denmark brings also a young and talented generation to this World Cup. Three years ago, the U-21 national team reached the U-21 European Championship semifinals and made a great performance. In the current squad you can find seven players that have been a part of this championship and some of them have an important role in Denmark's qualification.

One of them is Yussuf Poulsen, who plays for RB Leipzig. Poulsen is a son of a Danish mother and Tanzanian father and is showing some of the new generation of young European players. Another great player is Viktor Fischer, who returned to his home nation at the last season as he played for FC Copenhagen.

With a long tradition of football, Denmark believes that they can make it through the next stage. As France is expected to finish on the top of the group, Denmark will fight against Peru and Australia. Defeating Peru will be an improtant step in the way for this objective.

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World Cup Warm-up: Saudi Arabia v Peru

Who? Saudi Arabia - Peru
Where? Kybunpark, St. Gallen
When? June 3, 20:00 (CET local time)

Saudi Arabia (Uri Levy)

Saudi football will never forget the 2017/2018, and from different justified reasons. The country held its first football matches with female audience, 10 Saudi internationals has signed in Spanish teams in an outrageous deal and the national team managed to qualify for the World Cup with three coaches in one year. Wait, what? Yes.

The Saudis have started the World Cup Qualification with the Dutch Brett Van Marwijk, who got sacked and replaced by Edgardo Bauza. Bauza himself was sacked after only three months later and was replaced by Juan Antonio Pizzi, the current coach.

The man behind everything is one of the strongest figures in Middle Eastern football - Turki Al-Shekih, the Saudi Football Association President, and the brain behind the Spanish deal. He hoped for different results. Besides numerous minutes of Fahd Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsri at Levante and Villareal, none of the players involved in the deal gained the opportunity to get playing time in a European level.

This fact turned out to be a bit problematic, as a few of the national team’s most promising stars are arriving the World Cup after four months where they played only few minutes of pro football.

Meanwhile, the betting agencies positioned Saudi Arabia as one of the two worst teams in the World Cup. Though, in the past week against Italy, the Saudis produced a great second half, pressured the Italians to their own goal and even scored in a counter attack all made by their ‘Ex-Spanish’ players. Al-Muwallad pressed, Al-Dawsri stole the ball and founded Yahya Al-Shehri who played for Las Palmas, which went through Donnarumma and sent it in. 2-1 for the Italians at full time.

Against Peru, the Saudis will look to prepare themselves for Uruguay, and this is exactly why they brought a Copa America winner as Pizzi as coach. He knows what it takes to win a South American team.

Peru (Omri Tancman)

Two weeks before the World Cup and it seems that finally Peru can concentrate in creating stories on the field instead outside of it. To name some of the controversies that followed the Peruvian team on its way to Russia this summer, Peru lost to Bolivia 2-0 in September 2016 during the qualifications. However, in August 2017 a victory awarded for this game, after it was found that Nelson Cabrera, one of Bolivia’s players was ineligible to play.

Later, in the last game of the qualifications Peru and Colombia played each other. Both teams could benefit from a draw which would send Colombia to Russia and Peru to the playoffs instead of Chile. The match ended 1-1 with a bizarre own goal by Colombia’s goalkeeper, Ospina. Chilean press accused both teams for fixing the match, a claim that was boosted after Falcao was caught talking to some of Peru’s players, including Captain Paolo Guerrero, in order to calm down the game, according to Chilean accusations.

Finally, Guerrero himself was in the midst of another scandal when several weeks after qualification, he failed a drug test and was tested positive for cocaine. Guerrero was banned for 14 months and was supposed to be ruled out for the upcoming World Cup. In a dramatic fashion, on May 31st, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) decided to accept Guerrero’s appeal. The decision holds great importance for Peru who will now receive its captain and all-time top goal scorer back to the squad.

The game against Saudi Arabia will be a first test for the Peruvians to prove that they can create stories related only to football, although this might be somewhat boring, no?

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