Ricardo Gareca insists Peru will not take Bolivia lightly when they meet in Thursday’s Copa America quarter-final in Temuco.
The two sides qualified for the last eight as runners-up from their respective pools, Peru finishing second behind Brazil in Group C while Bolivia came through from Group A, eliminating Ecuador in the process.
But the teams come into the game on the back of starkly contrasting results.
Peru held Colombia to a goalless draw in their final match, while coach Gareca’s opposite number Mauricio Soria opted to rest four of his players for their clash with Chile.
It did not pay off as the hosts ran out 5-0 winners and Soria subsequently took responsibility for the defeat after making the alterations.
The coach is expected to recall the rested quartet of Miguel Hurtado, Edward Zenteno, Danny Bejarano and Damian Lizio.
Despite Bolivia’s hammering, Gareca does not see his side as clear favourites to progress against a team who sit 28 places lower in the FIFA rankings.
“We accept the idea of favouritism, but we have to look at it another way,” he said. “For the outside perhaps there is favouritism, but not for us.”
Gareca also moved to defend his attacking players, after Peru scored just twice in their three group-stage matches.
“[Claudio] Pizarro is a great man and a key player,” he said. “Paolo [Guerrero] is returning to his best and [Jefferson] Farfan is just recovering. The three of them are putting in a lot of effort.”
Peru finished third four years ago, after their first semi-final appearance since 1983, while Bolivia – winners in 1963 when the tournament was known as the South American Championship – have failed to advance beyond this stage since then.
With there being no extra-time should the game finish level after 90 minutes, both sides have been practicing penalties in training.
“We are ready for whatever comes,” said Bolivia’s Marcelo Martins Moreno. “We are ready for a great game to win, if penalties are needed we are ready for what comes.”
“We hope to get a win,” added Pablo Escobar. “On the pitch it is 11 against 11.”
Midfielder Bejarano.added: “We believe we can advance. We think only of winning the match in regulation time and advancing to the semi-finals.
“Each man will have to put their best to take the team forward.”
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