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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score||Odds|
The South Americans are strong favorites for good reason, but Australia should be able to at least find the back of the net.
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If Australia do go on to secure a spot at the 2022 World Cup, no one can argue that they have not earned it. This has been a long campaign for Graham Arnold’s side, whose journey began almost three years ago with home and away matches against Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Taiwan in the second round of the Asian section of qualification. Maximum points from those encounters booked Australia’s place in the third round.
That was much more of a struggle for the Socceroos, who finished a distant third behind Saudi Arabia and Japan. A return of 15 points from a possible 30 attests to the difficulties Australia encountered, as does their record of one draw and three defeats against the top two in Group B. In the end Arnold’s side only pipped Oman to third place by a single point.
That earned them a play-off against the United Arab Emirates, which Australia won 2-1 in Al Rayyan on Tuesday. Their performance was full of resilience and no one can doubt the character of this team, but the match once again showed that the current squad is much weaker than its recent predecessors, while Arnold’s tendency towards caution continues to draw critical comments from Australian fans.
Just like their upcoming opponents, Peru also qualified for the 2018 World Cup, ending the country’s long 36-year wait for another appearance on the biggest stage of all. They did themselves proud in Russia, even though a place in the round of 16 was ultimately beyond them. Ricardo Gareca’s side lost 1-0 to Denmark on matchday one, before a slender – but pivotal – 1-0 loss to France. Even though Peru beat Australia 2-0 in their final match, they were already eliminated from the competition.
A year later, los Incas finished as runners-up at the 2019 Copa America. They did not disgrace themselves in the final, going down 3-1 to a Brazil team that had the significant advantage of playing on home soil. Many predicted that would be as good as it got for this generation of the national team, but Peru are now just one game away from reaching a second consecutive World Cup after they finishes fifth in the South American section of qualification.
The bulk of the credit for Peru’s place in the inter-confederation play-offs should go to Gareca, who has worked wonders since being handed the reins in 2015. His previous job with Palmeiras went badly and the Argentine was subsequently rejected by Ghana, so it is not as if Peruvians up and down the land were jumping for joy when he was confirmed as their next boss.
However, Gareca has led the country to the brink of another World Cup appearance despite the crisis that Peruvian domestic soccer is going through right now. It is not as if the current crop of players is particularly brilliant. They are well coached, though, and thoroughly deserved to edge out a more talented Colombia side in the race for South America’s sole play-off spot.
Peru were pretty comfortable in beating Australia 2-0 at the last World Cup. The team is perhaps not quite as strong as it was four years ago, but the Socceroos have gone further backwards.
Indeed, it is for good reason that Peru are heavy favorites to win this play-off, as they would be at any venue outside Australia. The fact that it will take place in the heat of Qatar only adds to the likelihood that Peru will be playing France, Denmark and Tunisia in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, not Australia.
One hope for Arnold’s side is that the play-off against the United Arab Emirates will have made them sharper than Peru. Gareca’s men have played friendlies against Paraguay and New Zealand, winning them both, but non-competitive games do not have as much intensity as those where the outcome is vital. That only hands them a questionable advantage, though, and Peru’s superior quality is more likely to be a decisive factor.
Australia under Arnold are not a particularly adventurous team, but they could at least find the back of the net against a Peru side who struggled for clean sheets during the South American qualification process. Still, Gareca’s charges will probably prove too strong – back them to win and both teams to score.
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|Australia vs Peru Information|
|Teams||Australia vs Peru|
|Location||Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar|
|Time||Monday, 13 June 2022, 2 PM EDT|
|How to watch||Fox Sports 1, fuboTV|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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