Copa America 2019

Brazil wary of Guerrero threat

Above: Peru's Paolo Guerrero during training on Friday for today's final. Left: Brazil's players (from left) Dani Alves, Marquinhos and Casemiro having fun during training last month.
Brazil's players (from left) Dani Alves, Marquinhos and Casemiro having fun during training last month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: Peru's Paolo Guerrero during training on Friday for today's final. Left: Brazil's players (from left) Dani Alves, Marquinhos and Casemiro having fun during training last month.
Peru's Paolo Guerrero during training on Friday for today's final.PHOTO: REUTERS

Hosts are huge favourites after trouncing Peru 5-0 in group stage but insist final is different

RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazil have lifted the trophy every time they have hosted the Copa America and will look to maintain this perfect record with a first major tournament triumph since 2007 when they take on Peru in today's final.

Anything less than victory at the Maracana will be deemed a failure, and could cost Tite his job regardless of the steady progress the coach has overseen.

Despite losing the talented Neymar to injury on the eve of the tournament, the hosts have looked the strongest and most complete side with 10 goals scored and none conceded in five matches.

Their path to glory has been made easier by holders Chile going out in the semi-finals to Peru, who Brazil trounced 5-0 in the group stage.

The Selecao are again overwhelming favourites to beat Peru, but no-one in the country needs reminding of when Brazil went into the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracana Stadium feeling certain - only to suffer a 2-1 defeat by Uruguay.

Defender Marquinhos said Brazil, who have won the Copa eight times, including four times as hosts, were not underestimating Peru.

"We know that in football things change very quickly and Peru are in a completely different state now.

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    Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, with 13 Copa America goals, is the joint-third all-time top scorer in the competition.

"It will take a huge effort to beat them, because a final is a one-off game unlike any other," he told reporters.

"It will come down to emotions, tactics and technique. We will have to combine these factors and the tiny details will prove the difference. The team with the fewest mistakes will be champions."

Brazil will also be looking to maintain their defensive invincibility today and have identified the main threat to their defence: Peru forward Paolo Guerrero, 35.

He is a player well known to Brazilian fans, having spent the last seven years playing in the country.

Guerrero scored the winner for Corinthians in the 2012 Fifa Club World Cup final against Chelsea.

Now playing for Internacional in Porto Alegre, he also helped Corinthians win the Sao Paulo state title in 2013 and Flamengo to do likewise in the Rio state championship four years later.

"He's a player who deserves special attention for everything he's done in the past," said Marquinhos.

"I know him well, I played with him for a bit at Corinthians and I've played against him several times for the national team."

One of those was two weeks ago at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, where Guerrero was kept quiet while Peru went into a defensive meltdown in their 5-0 loss.

They have bounced back spectacularly from that set-back, though, first ousting Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-final, and then stunning Chile 3-0 in the last four.

It is only the second time Peru have reached the Copa final in their 103-year history.

They beat Colombia in a play-off in Caracas in 1975 after each side had won at home in a two-legged title decider.

And their first title in 1939 - then called the South American Championship - on home soil came at the end of a single five-team tournament played in a round-robin format.

"We've got to approach it calmly. It's true that we've achieved something very important after many years," said forward Raul Ruidiaz.

"We're aware that there's one more step to glory. We need to play with our feet on the ground and give everything on the pitch."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


COPA AMERICA

Final: Brazil v Peru, StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 3.45am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline 'Brazil wary of Guerrero threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe