vs. Location: Arena Corinthians (Itaquerão), São Paulo Brazil roster: Goleiros Alisson (Roma-ITA) Cássio (Corinthians) Ederson (Manchester City-ING) Laterais Daniel Alves (PSG-FRA) Filipe Luís (Atlético de Madri-ESP) Alex Sandro (Juventus-ITA) Fágner (Corinthians) Zagueiros Miranda (Inter de Milão-ITA) Marquinhos (PSG-FRA) Thiago Silva (PSG-FRA) Éder Militão (Porto-POR) Meio-campistas Arthur (Grêmio) Allan (Napoli-ITA) Lucas Paquetá (Milan-ITA) Casemiro (Real Madrid-ESP) Fernandinho (Manchester City-ING) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool-ING) Willian (Chelsea-ING) Atacantes Richarlison (PSG-FRA) Roberto Firmino (Liverpool-ING) Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City-ING) David Neres (Ajax-HOL) Everton (Grêmio) With 4 points in two matches and qualification in the quarterfinals not yet assured, Brazil now goes for 7 points and top place in Group A as it returns to São Paulo. But whereas Venezuela and Bolivia have historically been “punching bags” for Brazil, Peru is on another level – a higher one. While it is true that Peru, like every other South American competitor, has lost against Brazil more than it has won, Peru gave even the Brazil of Pelé’s generation very difficult matches. 60 years ago, Pelé’s Brazil tied Peru 2-2 in the South American Championship, and in 1963, Brazil beat Peru by only 1-0 (admittedly without Pelé and Garrincha). Peru defeated Brazil for the first time in 1953, in South American Championship competition, and in 1975, Peru actually defeated Brazil 1-3 in the Copa América, in a match held at the Mineirão. Between this match and a 2-0 win for Brazil in 1995, Brazil went 20 years without beating Peru in Copa América fixtures. And no one here will remember the 0-1 loss Brazil faced vs. Peru at the 2016 Copa América Centenário, with Cueva’s hand goal. Peru, like Venezuela, was a tough opponent in the last CONMEBOL World Cup qualification tournament, and under Ricardo Gareca’s management for more than 4 years now, Peru improved enough to return to the World Cup for the first time since 1982, after clinching 5th place and defeating New Zealand in the playoff. In Russia, Peru fell in the group stage after losing to Denmark and to France. Gareca, in charge of Peru for the 3rd straight Copa América, now faces more pressure after leading Peru back the World Cup. Winning it on Brazilian soil would be a daunting challenge for any contender, and despite its improvements, it may seem like an impossibility. Its two nullified goals, courtesy of VAR, against Venezuela show that nothing will be easy in this tournament. Peru is generally deployed with a 4-2-3-1 whose strengths are seen on the wings. Paolo Guerrero remains his national team’s reference on offense, although his long suspension helped his team find other alternatives. Jefferson Farfán, Raúl Ruidíaz, and André Carrillo have taken up important roles on the team. If Brazil’s defense will be sure to fight for every possession against Peru’s front line, Brazil’s own offense may have its wishes against Peru’s zaga, which is noticeably vulnerable on the aerial game. The first two of the three goals Colombia scored in its recent 3-0 victory at Peru right before this tournament resulted from aerial crosses into the box. After its 1-0 win vs. Brazil on U.S. soil in 2016, Brazil regained the upper hand, with a 3-0 win in Salvador in November 2015 and 0-2 in Lima 1 year later in World Cup qualification matches. In fact, since the current “every team vs. every team” system was adopted (for Brazil, the first participation was for 2002), Brazil has won 5 times and drawn 3, without any Peruvian victories. With its win against the modest Bolivians, Peru would love a moral booster by defeating the hosts and winning the group. But Tite’s men, themselves now under pressure after failing to defeat Venezuela, want blood to lift morale. The following was the starting XI deployed by Ricardo Gareca for Peru’s 3-1 victory against Bolivia: Gallese; Advíncula, Zambrano, Abram, Trauco; Tapia, Yotún; Farfán, Cueva, Polo; Guerrero.