*Paraguay and Chile have yet to kickoff at the time of writing this article. I will update my Copa America record as I go along during the tournament with matches complete.*
Adam Chernoff is again not hanging around this week as he seeks out the early value for Matchday 2 at the Copa America.
Bullish on Peru
The betting market expected Peru to break through at the 2018 World Cup. In their three matches against Denmark, eventual champions France and Australia, Los Incas took the money. At least a 3% drop in price for all matches, including a huge move from 10.50 at open vs France to 5.50 at close. The same thing applied in the opening round match against Venezuela when Peru opened at 2.30 before eventually closing at 2.10 before kickoff.
Over the course of the year, Peru continues to take on money, but the results fail to come through.
The lack of results are not due to lack of performance.
Whether it was the shanked penalty by Cueva during the World Cup or two goals called back by VAR against Venezuela last Saturday, Peru continuously generates opportunities but fails to come through.
I think comparing the results from the World Cup last year into the match on Saturday is fair due to the fact that 17 of the 23 players return and all by two players on the 23-man squad have played time under Gareca. This is nearly the exact same group of players now playing their fifth match where the market is rating them higher than the starting price suggests – and I completely agree.
Peru outshot Venezuela 17-11 but managed to get off 12 shot attempts from within 17 yards in comparison to just 6 from Venezuela. What impressed me the most about the match was the play of the team in the middle of the field. Cueva, Farfan and Gurrerro, in my opinion, performed below average while Gonzales, Yotun, Tapia, Zambrando, and Abram were rock solid in mid attack and defence.
Eduardo Villegas made it clear that his intention entering the tournament was to establish a foundation for the upcoming CONMEBOL World Cup qualification tournament. Against Brazil, his inability to put forth an attacking game plan using his talent was quite clear. Bolivia sat in a rigid 4-4-1-1 which was extremely vanilla. Typically, managers without a clear plan will resort to the 4-4-1-1 because of its simplicity instead of going with a traditional 4-4-2 which requires continuity amongst the two strikers.
The “zone” style of 4-4-1-1 means that both strikers must have strong performances to generate enough opportunities to score. Marcelo Moreno was non-existent and Raul Castro was subbed out in the 70th minute. It is clear that Villegas has issues upfront. The one soft spot for Peru is their backline, but should the same formation hold true, there is plenty of opportunity for Peru to push up and ease up defensively without worry of getting burned.
Another clear weakness of the 4-4-1-1 is in central defence. It may sound strange considering how many bodies are in the middle of the pitch, but, because the formation tends to play out wide offensively, the central defenders can be left alone in a 4 vs 4 situation. Peru has a knack for playing directly up the middle of the pitch which is where they excelled against Venezuela. Changing the core philosophy of their defence is going to be tricky for Villegas on a short 96-hour notice based on what he showed in the opener. Should he go forth with a similar plan, this match sets up well for Peru.
Let’s Fade Qatar Again
My main issue with Qatar entering the tournament from a tactical perspective was their success coming against teams that did not press in midfield. Qatar’s run through the Asian Cup came against opponents who conceded a ton of space in midfield and attack. Qatar were able to use their speed to disguise their lack of size and take advantage of the space to run up a beefy goal differential despite generating few opportunities.
Colombia proved against Argentina that their press is back – and dangerous at that. For the first time in a decade, Colombia finally has size at every position. Mina and Sanchez are overwhelming at centre back, Barrios is a shut down defender and the depth at attacking midfield is dangerous. Argentina was overwhelmed by the likes of Lerma, Zapata and Martinez. The injury to Muriel means that Roger will start for Colombia and give them even more speed upfront.
If you watched the Matchbook video previewing the tournament, you will know that I am a huge advocate for Zapata starting over Falcao. I don’t think that Queiroz is ready to make that jump in just the second match in control – or this tournament – but the size and speed advantage he adds to the team, even off the bench, is enormous. His pass and run through defenders for the second goal was incredible against talent at the back for Argentina.
Matched up against Qatar, Colombia has an enormous advantage.
Unless the Asian side comes out and shows me something completely unexpected against Paraguay, I suspect that Colombia is going to be able to control the middle of the pitch and slowly push Qatar back. Even with Falcao starting ahead of Zapata, Colombia has such an enormous skill and size advantage up front, that I don’t see Qatar being able to put together a game plan to hold them off for 90 minutes.
Depending on what happens in the Paraguay match, there is likely to be some sort of market reaction. However, even with a Qatar shock victory, I suspect that this Colombia move is going to be the biggest price adjustment by the market this tournament. I suspect that the -1.25 goal line may close below 1.50 by the time we reach kickoff. Should Qatar lose against Paraguay or look as I expect, this -1.25 goal option may be off the board by kickoff.
Colombia can stick to their 4-3-3- and blowout a Qatar team that is under matched at all positions.
- Peru -0.75 (1.704) Risking 1.50x
- Colombia -1.25 (1.746). Risking 1.25x