Venezuela will play their first match of the Copa America 2019 when they face Peru at the Arena do Gremio.
Venezuela are currently ranked 29th in the FIFA rankings. They have improved vastly since the turn of the millennium. Venezuela achieved their highest finish at the Copa America in 2011 when they finished fourth. In the last edition in 2016 they reached as far as the quarter-finals. This time they will be hopeful of reaching the knockout stages at least. Their group consists of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia apart from themselves. Even if Brazil are favorites to win the group, the second spot is definitely up for grabs.
Their qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup was a terrible one. Venezuela finished last in the division, winning just two out of their 18 matches. Improving on those performances will be the priority for coach Rafael Dudamel. Their last game was a friendly against Mexico, who beat them 3-1. Team Murillo gave them the lead in that game, but Mexico responded to claim the win.Embed from Getty Images
Salomon Rondon will lead Venezuela’s attack at the Copa America. The Newcastle United striker has scored 22 goals for his country, which is just one short of the record. He will hope to beat that in this tournament. Tomas Rincon will be their most-capped player at the tournament. The defender has 93 caps to his name, and he will captain the squad in Brazil. Aside from a couple of players, the vast majority of the team is inexperienced.
They will face Peru, who have been a revitalized side in recent years. They finished third in the 2015 edition of the Copa America. Peru qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was their first time in the tournament since 1982. They crashed out in the group stage in Russia, but they will be raring to go again. After two successive third-place finishes, Peru could only reach the quarter-finals in the last Copa America. They will aim to improve that this time.Embed from Getty Images
Peru recently played Costa Rica in a friendly, which they won 1-0. Christian Cueva got the goal for them in that game. Paolo Guerrero will lead their attack in Brazil this time. He is their captain as well as their all-time leading goalscorer with 35 goals to his name. Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan are two of the most experienced players in the squad. Together they have 181 caps to their name. This could be their last tournament for their country, which means that the younger generation needs to step up.
Venezuela vs Peru Prediction
Peru will be the slight favorites for this one, but it will be a close game. Expect to see less than 2.5 goals in this one. Both teams will set up to avoid conceding, which could give way to a tense encounter. Peru are likely to nick a narrow win and start their Copa America campaign on a winning note.