Both Saudi Arabia and Peru will be in Russia and it’ll be interesting to see how they go. The Saudis qualified ahead of Australia in their group but they haven’t really done anything on the big stage in recent years. Peru meanwhile are looking forward to their first World Cup since 1982 and they’ll be hungry to keep the momentum going here.
Saudi Arabia will be involved in the very first game of the 2018 World Cup as they take on host nation Russia. They’ll be hoping they can take advantage of any nerves the home players will be dealing with but it’s hard to see the Saudis making much impact in Russia. Their coach is Juan Antonio Pizzi, appointed only at the back-end of last year and it was a surprising call given he was largely blamed for a talented Chile team’s failure to qualify having overseen the bulk of the South American nation’s qualifying campaign.
He should at least have some inside knowledge on Peru, who were dealt a massive boost this week with the news that their captain Paolo Guerrero has been cleared to play at the World Cup. He was previously suspended for a doping offence with traces of cocaine found his system ahead of a qualifier with Argentina last year. However with the support of the three captains in Peru’s World Cup group, common sense looks to have prevailed and Guerrero has been cleared to feature in Russia.
It remains to be seen whether he will play any part in this game but either way it will be a major boost to morale in the Peruvian camp. They look the more likely victors regardless and have been in pretty good form of late. They’ve won all of their last four games and are actually unbeaten in 13 now in a run that stretches way back to November 2016. It’s not as if they’ve had easy games either with Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Croatia amongst their opponents on this current unbeaten streak.
They will really want to keep this current momentum going into the summer and they will fancy they can see off the Saudis following a comfortable 2-0 win over Scotland on home soil. The Asian side were beaten 2-1 by Italy in a friendly earlier this week. They’ve played a host of friendlies since qualifying but have only won 4 of their last 12 matches, in a run which includes a host of games against under-strength opponents.
Peru certainly have a bit more in terms of all-round quality and ought to get the job done over 90 minutes here so backing Peru to Win appeals.
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