Quarters the Only Focus For Colombia Against Peru


Quarters the Only Focus For Colombia Against Peru

Edwin Valencia insists Colombia’s only focus is on qualifying for the Copa America quarter-finals, not finishing top of Group C, as they prepare for a crucial showdown with Peru.

Jose Pekerman’s Colombia kept their hopes alive with a vital 1-0 victory over Brazil on Thursday, in a match that ended in controversy as Neymar was sent off after the final whistle when he appeared to kick the ball at Pablo Armero and then seemingly attempted to headbutt goalscorer Jeison Murillo.

It was the perfect response to a shock 1-0 loss to Venezuela in their opening group match, and it means all four teams in the pool are locked on three points with the same goal difference after two matches.

While Colombia can still top the group with a win over Peru, midfielder Valencia is only concerned by reaching the knockout stages.

“Now we have the opportunity to play well against Peru and achieve qualification,” he said at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s contest in Temuco.

“We have had the chance to see Peru’s games. We know they are a rather difficult opponent. [They] try to exploit their forwards, who are strong and skilled.

“All of them will need to be watched. [We need] to be compact to get the three points and to qualify.”

Colombia, who won the Copa for the only time in their history on home soil in 2001, face a Peru side that beat Venezuela 1-0 to maintain their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive.

Having lost 2-1 to Brazil in their opener, Claudio Pizarro scored the only goal of the game against their 10-man opponents to take it to the last group game.

Peru have previous in the tournament against Colombia, having beaten them 2-0 after extra-time in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Copa en route to a third-placed finish.

Head coach Ricardo Gareca is aware that repeating that feat will not be easy, but he is backing Peru to rise to the occasion.

“It will be difficult, but we are going to try to win the match,” he said. “They are also playing for their life so it will be difficult.

“We have to improve some aspects of our game, but winning is important now.”

MATCH FACTS

  • Colombia have won only one of their last nine Copa America games against Peru (D4, L4), keeping only one clean sheet in the process.
  • Indeed, the only two times Colombia have defeated Peru in the Copa America (D5, L7), were in games played in Colombia (1975 and 2001).
  • However, Peru have won only one of their last six clashes in this competition against Colombia (D4, L1): their last meeting in the 2011 Quarter-final (2-0).
  • This will be the first time Colombia and Peru have faced each other in the Copa America with Chile as host nation.
  • Colombia are unbeaten in the last game of the group stage in the last five Copa America editions (W4, D1).
  • On the other hand, Peru have won the last game of the group stage only once in the last five editions (D2, L2).
  • Jeison Murillo became the first defender to score a goal for Colombia in Copa America since Ivan Ramiro Cordoba against Mexico in the 2001 final.
  • Colombia and Peru are the only two teams to have won a game in this Copa America converting the only shot on target attempted in the match.
  • Colombia’s forwards are yet to attempt a shot on target in this Copa America.
  • Six of Colombia’s last nine goals in the Copa America have come from a set piece: three penalties, two from indirect free-kicks and one from a corner.
  • Jose Paolo Guerrero is the player with the most fouls won (10) after the second round of this Copa America.
  • Peru have alternated between a win and a defeat in their last seven Copa America games, winning 1-0 their last match against Venezuela.

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