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.