A close 1-0 loss for Peru to open their 2018 World Cup campaign was far from ideal but looking at the match, Peru has a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on for their next games. After this great team performance but eventual loss there is one truisms that come to the forefront: you can’t control the other teams goalkeeper.
Kasper Schmeichel was channelling shades of his legendary father on the pitch today, shutting down the Peruvian attack at every opportunity. He did look shaky at times, and this was to be expected after his long injury lay off for Leicester City, but when it mattered he was exactly where he needed to be. The Peru attack did, at times, help him out by shooting the ball right at him, but on saves like his left hand stop on Cueva just after Denmark scored he was the Man of the Match for his nation.
This focus on offence leads us to two important points for Peru – their possession and shots – as they flipped the script on Denmark in the second half. The stat that shows this most effectively is the total possession percentage at the end of the game, with Peru taking the lions share with 53%. At 35 minutes into this game Denmark was holding on to the ball for a staggering 67% of possession. Peru were restricted to a heavily counterattacking style of football taking what Denmark gave them possession wise and using their immense team speed to stretch them out when they could. The second half, however saw them hold onto the ball and create plays rather than force them into existence.
The shots for Peru were also incredible this game. With 17 shots and 6 on target, the Peruvian attack forced Denmark back on their heels, and forced Schmeichel into his A game. Despite the most important shot being missed by Cuevo on his penalty kick, Farfan was a constant threat up top, Cueva brought the speed up the middle and Carrillo was stretching out the right side of the pitch all match.
For Peru the biggest turning point in the match was their knight in shining armour, Paulo Geurrero entering the game. The 62nd minute substitution for Edison Flores changed the complexion of the game for Peru. Cueva moved to the left and jumped to the top of the formation as a centre-forward. The polarizing forward was allowed to play in the World Cup as his suspension for doping was temporarily dropped, and the Peru supporters are thankful for this! He looked threatening immediately and just missed a couple key opportunities, most notably a sneaky back heel flick that curled just wide of the post.
For Peru this match was positive in outlook while disappointing in outcome. In group play France struggled with Australia who, despite playing well against France, capitalized on a really random and unnecessary hand ball by French defender Samuel Umtiti for a penalty goal. Although Peru are without a point they are only -1 on goal differential and made a statement in their opening match against Denmark. France and Australia will have a tall task against them in the form of Peru in Group C play.