Peru vs ChileCopa America, KO: 01:30 Jul 4, 2019, Gremio Arena
THAT Peru find themselves just one game away from the Copa America final is remarkable, given they have drawn a blank in three of their four matches in Brazil.
They only scraped into the last eight as one of the best third-placed teams, having finished their group campaign with a 5-0 hiding against the Brazilians.
Peru were then outplayed by Uruguay in their quarter-final but held on for penalties after their opponents had three goals chalked off for offside.
Even the shoot-out triumph had a hint of the incredulous about it as the normally deadly Luis Suarez was the only player to miss, sealing victory for Peru.
Their reward is a semi-final with neighbours Chile, a team Peru crushed 3-0 in a friendly in America last October. But it should be a different story with a place in the final up for grabs and I suspect Peru's run of luck will have to continue if they are to see off another side with superior players.
Chile's Arturo Vidal insists revenge is not driving his side as they gear up for the semi-final but it adds an extra spice to proceedings.
The Chileans have won the last two Copa Americas and although their golden generation of players is entering the twilight years they should have enough quality to reach a third successive final.
Reinaldo Ruelda's side were pretty impressive in the group stage, crushing Japan 4-0 then edging out Ecuador 2-1 before losing 1-0 against Uruguay thanks to a late Edinson Cavani strike.
Chile had the toughest quarter-final of all the teams in the last four, taking on a strong Colombia team, but showed their strength of character to come out on top in a penalty shoot-out after another stalemate.
That showed there's still great spirit in the ranks and that's typified by the form of star man Alexis Sanchez. The striker has looked a pale shadow of his former self in a Manchester United shirt but when he pulls on the red of Chile you can see why the Old Trafford board thought about sanctioning his ridiculous pay packet.
Sanchez has two goals to his name at the Copa America and also hit the winning penalty in the shoot-out triumph over Colombia. The 30-year-old ripped into his critics after that victory, hitting out at those who had “talked s***” about him in a memorable Instagram post.
He's definitely a man on a mission at these finals so it's a surprise to see him as long as 5/2 for anytime scorer with Paddy Power. For first scorer those odds increase to 11/2 with the same firm but Sanchez has actually been last scorer in both games he has netted in at the Copa America. So I'll be backing him to make it a hat-trick in that market, where the striker is also 11/2 with Paddy Power.
Both sides should be at full strength, with Peru's Jefferson Farfan the only doubt, so expect the line-ups to be similar to the teams sent out in the quarter-finals.
Chile look decent value at 99/100 with Marathonbet for the win, although you shouldn't rule out another 0-0 draw if Peru use the same gameplan they did against Uruguay. Another scoreless stalemate is 6/1 with Bet365 but I fancy the Chileans to win by either a one or two-goal margin.
The odds on a one-goal winning margin for Chile are 13/5 at SportNation while an extra goal stretches it to 96/19 with the same firm.
This Copa America match between Peru and Chile will be played on Jul 4, 2019 and kick off at 01:30