All Eyes on Guerrero as Peru Kick Off FIFA 2018 Campaign

Peru vs Denmark

Paolo Guererro will be the man in the spotlight when Peru take on Denmark in their opening World Cup game at Mordovia Arena in Russia.

The Peruvian skipper grabbed headlines ahead of FIFA 2018 due to a doping controversy that led to his banning, so it’s no wonder why fans are excited to see him lead La Blanquirroja in their first appearance on the big stage in 36 years.

Denmark, however, pose a big challenge, thanks to a relatively deep squad that boasts a number of players plying their trade in Europe’s top competitions.

Talking Points

The previous months, in the buildup to the World Cup, were a rollercoaster ride of emotions for Peru fans. After qualifying for the Russia event for the first time in almost four decades, they were dealt a blow when the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) banned Guerrero for 14 months for an alleged drugs violation.

Guerrero—the nation’s all-time leading scorer with 34 goals—tested positive for a banned substance called benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.

His suspension led to plenty of calls for a review of the punishment. Peru fans even staged a rally, wearing national team jerseys and waving flags in a show of support to their talismanic striker.

And in a surprising turn of events, after the captains of the other Group C teams wrote a letter to FIFA to request Guerrero’s clearance, the Swiss High Court ordered a freeze of his ban to allow the 34-year-old to play.

A statement from the tribunal even said that Guerrero would “suffer” if he was unable to play in the tournament that would likely be the “crowning achievement” of his footballing career.

FIFA 2018 odds may now be in the favour of Peru as Paolo Guerrero will definitely give them a boost

Peru fans rally for Paolo Guerrero’s ban to be lifted ahead of the World Cup

Indeed, if there’s one thing we learned from these events, it is the fact that Guerrero is an important part of Peru. We could even say that he is the heart and soul of the team!

With Guerrero back to the Peru fold and ready to prove himself now more than ever, the Blanquirroja have a legitimate chance of making it past the group stage. We have all seen what the Flamengo forward can do in their 3-0 friendly victory over fellow World Cup-qualifiers Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Denmark, nonetheless, know the threat that Guerrero and Peru bring and will be ready in their opening match-up.

The Danes, who open the group phase with high hopes of a making deep run in the competition, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Mexico and are now undefeated in their last 15 FIFA-sanctioned fixtures.

They are also brimming with confidence, thanks in large part to the presence of midfielder Christian Eriksen who can act both as a finisher and playmaker. The Tottenham star was the hero when they booked their ticket to the competition, scoring a hat-trick in the playoff against the Republic of Ireland.

Peru and Denmark are looking for the best FIFA 2018 results in Group C. And sure enough, victory here is important to get their campaign off to a great start. After all, with France expected to top the group, this game might prove crucial in deciding who will be taking second place.

History

This game will be the first meeting between the two nations, but that doesn’t mean they will hold back when they play against each other.

Peru have a proud history in international competition despite last making the World Cup in 1982. In fact, they finished third in the Copa America in 2011 and 2015.

Coach Ricardo Gareca guided Peru to an eight-game unbeaten run in qualification (including playoff), and they are undoubtedly on a high after another undefeated streak in their 2018 friendlies that saw them bag four wins and a draw.

Denmark, on the other hand, have a point to prove after failing to qualify in Euro 2016. They did manage to make it to the playoff of the European championship qualification but eventually lost to Sweden in the two-legged tie.

What are the odds?

Christian Eriksen will spearhead Denmark's journey to attain World Cup supremacy

Christian Eriksen in action during Denmark’s international friendly clash against Mexico

Considering the two nations’ recent form, it’s not surprising to see the FIFA 2018 betting odds tight between them.

us, however, slightly favours Denmark to win at 1X2 @ 2.40, while Peru are at 1X2 @ 3.05.

While a draw is another tempting option, Denmark are still tipped to have the better chance of winning. The Danes are at Draw No Bet @ 1.72, compared to Peru’s 2.26.

The match isn’t also expected to be a high-scoring affair, with Denmark and Peru having kept four clean sheets in their last five outings in all competitions. Over 2.50 goals pays at 2.36 while Under 2.50 is only at a measly 1.63.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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