Brazil vs PeruCopa America, KO: 21:00 Jul 7, 2019, Maracana
NOBODY would have expected these sides to meet again in the Copa America Final after Brazil thrashed Peru 5-0 in their final group game.
But the Peruvians have defied the odds to see off strong Uruguay and Chile sides to reach their first South American showpiece in 44 years.
While their shoot-out triumph over Uruguay owed a lot to good fortune, with their opponents having three goals ruled out, Ricardo Gareca's side swept aside neighbours Chile with style in their semi-final.
Their emphatic 3-0 victory over the champions, who were chasing a third successive Copa America title, came as a massive surprise, given Peru had drawn a blank in three of their four previous matches at the finals.
Like most people, I tipped Chile to reach the final, but Gareca's men rediscovered the swagger they had shown en route to last summer's World Cup.
Gareca has created a fierce team spirit, allied to a huge sense of national pride, but even that might not be enough to complete the fairytale with a win over Brazil at the Maracanã.
Despite a few unconvincing displays, the hosts have blazed a trail to the final without conceding a goal. Their biggest test came in the semi-finals against arch enemies Argentina and it was one they passed, despite Lionel Messi's memorable rant about some of the refereeing decisions.
I backed Brazil to win that semi and they delivered, even though a misfiring Argentina side turned in their best performance of the tournament.
Now they are massive favourites to lift the trophy, with most firms pricing Brazil at either 3/10 or 2/7 for the win. That will bring added pressure for Tite's side and in many ways it may have been easier if they had faced Chile in the final as the sense of expectation wouldn't have been so big.
But they had the measure of Peru in that 5-0 win and although the margin of victory shouldn't be so emphatic in the final, Brazil should finish the job in front of home crowd.
It's quite an ask to go a whole tournament without conceding a goal so I've a hunch Peru might just get a consolation goal here. And the odds on a Brazilian win with both teams to score are excellent, with 888 Sport quoting 13/4.
The hosts will be without Willian after the Chelsea midfielder picked up a thigh injury in the semi-final win over Argentina but left-back Filipe Luis may return after sitting out the last-four clash. Peru's Jefferson Farfan is still an injury doubt so expect Gareca to stick with the side that blew away Chile.
I got a bit of joy in the card markets by tipping Argentina's full-backs to be booked against the pace of Gabriel Jesus and Everton down the flanks. It could be a similar story in the final and Peru right-back Luis Advincula looks a prime candidate for a card. He was booked in Peru's 5-0 loss to Brazil in the group stage and another card here pays 5/4 with Bet365.
Peru should sit back and try to hit on the counter attack and that lends value to a requested bet available at Ladbrokes. They are offering 11/10 on under 1.5 goals in the first half, under 2.5 goals in the second half and either side to win. That looks excellent value.
In the goalscorer markets, I'll plump for Philippe Coutinho again, even though he let me down against Argentina. The Barcelona star is 9/5 for anytime scorer with Ladbrokes.
This Copa America match between Brazil and Peru will be played on Jul 7, 2019 and kick off at 21:00