Have you heard the one about the gunslinger, the assassin and the predator? Football fans in Salvador attending the Copa America quarterfinal between Uruguay and Peru soon will because that’s what’s in store for them on Saturday.
Three of South America’s most feared forwards will square off, weapons cocked and ready for battle.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez scored 25 goals for Barcelona last season and Edinson Cavani managed 23 for Paris Saint-Germain. Lining up opposite them will be Peru’s Paolo Guerrero, a player who netted nine times for Brazil’s Internacional since April after returning from a 14-month doping ban.
With that kind of firepower on the pitch, fans in the northern Brazilian city should be in for a feast of goals.
“Suarez and Cavani are irreplaceable,” said Uruguay’s coach Oscar Tabarez a few months ago.
“Given their incredibly high performance level, we can expect to achieve much more.”
Only host Brazil scored more goals than Uruguay in the group stages - in part thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of a self-destructing Peru in its final pool match - and only pitch-perfect Colombia managed a better record.
Uruguay’s dynamic duo, both from Salto in the north west, are feeling confident ahead of the knock-out stages of a competition the country has won a record 15 times.
“We’re one of the potential winners. We’re Uruguay, the team that has won the Copa America the most times, and we need to demonstrate this by winning matches,” said 32-year-old Suarez, the gunslinger, his country’s all-time record goalscorer with 58.
He’s scored three times against Peru in the Copa America alone.
He and Cavani have found the net twice each in Brazil, with the PSG forward bagging the crucial winner in Monday’s 1-0 success over champions Chile that allowed Uruguay to top Group C.
“We needed to win, we wanted to top the group and give a good account of ourselves and continue with this attitude,” said ‘the assassin’ Cavani, 32, second only to Suarez with 48 international goals.
Lining up in Peru’s attack will be their own all-time top scorer, Paolo Guerrero (37 goals). Alongside Eduardo Vargas of Chile, he’s also the top active Copa America goalscorer with 12.
Guerrero began his senior career in Germany and after a decade at Bayern Munich and then Hamburg, he left for Brazil where he helped Corinthians win the Club World Cup, scoring the only goal in the final against Chelsea.
But Corinthians’ home stadium in Sao Paulo was the scene of Peru’s painful scolding against the hosts and that’s something Guerrero wants to put right.
“We have a rematch where we can make amends, we can do better, correct our mistakes,” said ‘the Predator’ about Peru’s quarter-final tie.
Guerrero, 35, is also raring to go after serving a 14-month doping suspension after testing positive for traces of cocaine.
While other players are at the end of a long hard season, Guerrero is much fresher having played only a couple of months of football before the tournament began.
With a combined age of 99, time is not on the side of these three veteran strikers and this may well be one of the last major competitions any of them features in.
The era of the gunslinger, the assassin and the predator may soon be at an end, but football fans will be hoping they combine in explosive fashion on Saturday.
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