The battle of the bottom of the barrel of the 2018 CONMEBOL World Cup Qualification, or also known as Peru versus Venezuela will take place in the Estadio Nacional in Lima on Thursday.
Where They Stand and What's Their Situation
Peru and Venezuela are both stuck in the basement. Los Incas are in ninth place with three points and a negative five goal differential. La Vinotinto are in 10th place and they are the only nation left with zero points. The two countries will both be playing their fifth qualification match and three points is a must for the two of them.
Out of the two countries La Blanquirroja will be in better shape with a victory on Thursday. If the Peruvians can find a way to record their second victory of the qualification campaign, then they can potentially jump as high as sixth place.
Of course for that to happen a few results need to go their way. For that to happen they will need (sixth place) Argentina to lose too Chile and eighth place Bolivia have to tie seventh place Colombia.
If Los Llaneros pick up a rare victory in the land of the Incas then they will most likely just jump over the Peruvians. However, if Venezuela or Peru loses this match then their dreams of qualifying to the World Cup in Russia in 2018 will be in serious jeopardy.
Regardless, that after this match there are still 13 more games left to play, the distance between them and fifth place will begin to grow. Meaning for them to even have a chance of qualifying to the biggest tournament in the world, they will need a lot of favors for that to happen.
The History Between Them
So for both of them picking up three points is extremely crucial. For Los Incas history is on their side. They have dominated the series against Venezuela with a (W-D-L) 20-4-8 record and a positive 19 goal differential.
The series becomes even more one sided when the two countries play in Peru. The two nations have faced each other 20 times in the land of the Incas and the Peruvians have only lost once. That one defeat came in March 31st 2015; Los Llaneros were able to escape with a narrow 1-0 victory.
However, seventeen out of the rest of the matches have ended in victories for Peru. La Blanquirroja have outscored the Venezuelans 41 to 11 when at home. Peru will be looking to continue their dominance over them.
How the Peruvians Win
The road to victory for the Peruvians starts with the defense. In the games that they have lost the Incas have allowed nine goals. La Blanquirroja sole victory was a clean sheet against Paraguay.
Inca defenders: Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Ascues, Luis Advíncula and Yoshimar Yotún will need to be the core for Peru on Thursday. If they falter, then the attack will never be able to get going in the match.
The offense of La Blanquirroja will need to be precise with their chances against La Vinotinto. The longer this game last scoreless the more confident Venezuela will get and the more nervous the Peruvians will become. The more anxious the Incas get the more liable their defense will be to making an error and the chances of them conceding a goal increases.
That being said Paolo Guerrero, Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfán need to score for Peru. Plus, a big victory for the Peruvians will improve their goal differential and help their journey up the standings.
Venezuela Need to Be Smart and Patient
Venezuela will need to rely on their counters on Thursday. Since the match is at Lima and the Incas need a result, it is safe Peru will be attacking constantly. Every time La Vinotinto are able to go on the offensive, Venezuela needs to put pressure on Peru’s defense.
They must also slow down the game and kill the tempo of the Peruvians. La Blanquirroja will be looking to push Venezuela defense and tire them by chasing the ball. The best strategy for Los Llaneros is to make the pace of the game lethargic and physical.
Venezuela’s key player to potentially leave Lima with three points is striker Salomón Rondón. The Barclays Premier League forward will need to lead Los Llaneros attack and be the man that keeps the Incas defense honest. However, If the 26-year-old striker fails to make an impact in this match then the Venezuelan offense will begin to fall apart.