Uruguay 1-1 Peru: Guerrero and Lodeiro the key men as both sides waste chances to win it
A more exciting game than many of the previous Copa America contests resulted in another draw.
Oscar Tabarez named his expected side, with all three of his star forwards on the pitch, supported by Nicolas Lodeiro from midfield.
Sergio Markarian wasn’t able to call upon Juan Manuel Vargas from the start, and so instead used Yoshimar Yotun, more frequently used as a defender, on the left flank.
The match was played at a higher tempo than the previous four matches in the tournament, with Uruguay closing down quickly early on, and Peru trying to get the ball forward quickly to Paolo Guerrero upfront.
Uruguay’s system was very similar to their formation in the infamous game against Ghana at last summer’s World Cup – two holding players with a more attack-minded player to the left, and Diego Forlan starting central, then dropping deep to drag a centre-back out, usually Alberto Rodriguez. That space wasn’t exploited particularly well by his two fellow forwards, however – Luis Suarez was the closest man to Forlan, with Edinson Cavani staying wide, although the two did switch flanks.
Some good combinations early on came to nothing, and Uruguay suddenly burst into life later in the first half when Lodeiro went from being invisible in the first 20 minutes, to being the game’s key player. He drifted forward unnoticed into great positions in the centre of the pitch, a little like Andres Iniesta does, and looked to get beyond Forlan when the Atletico striker moved away from goal. Exploiting that space helped Uruguay create chances – first Lodeiro seemed to lose track of the ball coming towards him when making a forward run into a great position, but later on he threaded the ball through to Suarez who finished well. Strangely, after that excellent 15-minute spell, Lodeiro was much quieter after half time.
Peru played a very simple game – they hit direct balls forward to Guerrero, who led the line excellently and brought the two wingers into play well. He most frequently combined with Luis Advincula down the right, although the opening goal cut out any combination play altogether – a huge long ball over the top to Guerrero saw him break the offside trap and round Fernando Muslera to score.
Peru’s other threat came from the long throw of Yotun down the right, but he was mainly focused upon his defensive duties. Maxi Pereira steamed forward from right-back and provided the same attacking thrust he does with Benfica. On the other side, Martin Cacares had a lot of time on the ball with Advincula trying to move central and link up with Guerrero, but is so right-footed that he didn’t really stretch the play as much as he should have – it would have been nice to see Alvaro Pereira used there to provide overlaps, but Tabarez seems to see him more of a wide midfielder than a full-back. Still, Cacares had enough time on the ball to start the move for the goal – but that sums up how much space he had at that point, rather than acting as an advert for his quality in possession.
The same pattern continued in the second half, although with Lodeiro fading, Uruguay looked less potent. Suarez become more involved, however, and he and Forlan created a good chance that the latter blazed over the bar.
Tabarez’s substitutions didn’t really change the game, with Abel Hernandez and Cristian Rodriguez straight swaps for Cavani and Lodeiro. Uruguay still needed more from left-back, but Pereira remained on the bench.
In fact, it was Peru who grew into the game, and the introduction of Vargas pushed them forward. He replaced Advincula, with Yotun moving to the right and nullifying Cacares.
Vargas’ quality also pushed back Maxi Pereira, and suddenly Peru were well in the game, having simply played defensive, direct football in the first half. Vargas had a couple of efforts that tested Muslera, and then late on his cross found Guerrero at the near post, who headed wide.
A little more excitement here, but there’s still been relatively little tactical interest from the Copa America – we’re still waiting for a game to be won through strategy, or for a manager to change things drastically from the bench. This was a decent game, but basically just the stronger side playing well and then struggling in front of goal, against an underdog getting men behind the ball and then hitting it long for the frontman.
Mexico v Chile will follow tomorrowUruguay 1-1 Peru: Guerrero and Lodeiro the key men as both sides waste chances to win it