Copa America preview, Venezuela v Peru: 2016 quarter-finalists meet in Group A opener

Both teams reached the quarter-finals at the previous tournament, but Peru and Venezuela are likely fighting for second place behind Brazil.

Published : Jun 15, 2019 04:05 IST

Salomon Rondon will be crucial to Venezuela's chances against Peru in their Copa America opener.
Salomon Rondon will be crucial to Venezuela's chances against Peru in their Copa America opener.

Salomon Rondon will be crucial to Venezuela's chances against Peru in their Copa America opener.

Peru and Venezuela will bid to repeat their success at the previous Copa America when they get their Group A campaigns up and running.

Both sides reached the quarter-finals at the special Centenario edition in 2016, but being in a pool alongside hosts Brazil means they are likely battling for second place this time around.

Venezuela's record goalscorer Salomon Rondon is likely to lead the line, keeping Josef Martinez out of the team, while Peru will rely on Paolo Guerrero for its goals.

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The veteran forward has hit 11 goals in his 19 career appearances at the Copa America, with Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez wary of his threat.

"This game will be key for us," said Farinez.

"Peru are a strong and forceful team. All their players are important, but Guerrero is their main reference.

"Peru are a tough opponent, with a very direct game. Paolo and Christian [Cueva] are their key men."

Venezuela can call upon a player who hit 11 Premier League goals in a loan spell at Newcastle United last season.

And West Brom striker Rondon showed he remains in good form when he became his country's all-time leading marksman by hitting a brace in a pre-tournament friendly against the United States.

"Surely there will be goals," he told EFE

"It will be a very complicated game and very physical, we must try to take advantage of the mistakes of the opponent."

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Venezuela – Salomon Rondon

Likely to be in demand with Premier League clubs ahead of the 2019-20 season, Rondon has a chance to put himself in the shop window. With four goals in his past five appearances for club and country, he will line up for Saturday's game in Porto Alegre full of confidence.

Peru – Paolo Guerrero

Former Bayern Munich striker Guerrero remains Peru's leading light at the age of 35 and, although there is another Copa America next year, this could be his final international tournament. He only scored once in four appearances at the 2016 edition but was prolific the year before, netting four times in Chile.

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