Uruguay v Peru: Battle-hardened Celeste can progress in Copa América

Uruguay's Fernando Muslera
Uruguay's Fernando Muslera has kept two clean sheets so far
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Jack Lang expects experience to make the difference for Óscar Tabárez's side on Saturday...

"Experience counts for a lot in these games, and Uruguay have bags of it. Suárez, Cavani, Godín and Muslera have been playing knockout matches for their country since World Cup 2010"

Uruguay v Peru
Saturday, 20:00
Live on Premier Sports 1

Celeste looking to kick on

Uruguay were our main antepost tip to win the Copa América, and while their price hasn't come in as much as might have been expected - they're 5.69/2 to win the tournament - we're satisfied with what we have seen thus far. There was a brief wobble in the group stage, when they were held by Japan, but the 1-0 victory over Chile at the Maracanã, which sealed top spot, was exactly the kind of performance you expect from Óscar Tabárez's side: determined, gritty and cathartic.

All is not perfect. The midfield, while solid, is still creating too little: Giorgian de Arrascaeta came into the side on Monday, as predicted, but did not add much spark from the right flank, while Nicolás Lodeiro has faded after a fine start to the tournament against Ecuador. It would help if the full-backs provided a little more thrust, but with Diego Laxalt injured, Tabárez has had to use Martín Cáceres on the left, where he offers little. With the clunky Giovanni González on the other flank, there's not much valuable support for the wide midfielders.

It's lucky, then, that the side's two great strengths continue to concretise. The defence was brilliant against Chile, with José María Giménez increasingly taking on the role of ringleader from partner Diego Godín. And up front, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez have both looked in the mood this month. They have scored two goals apiece and if they remain fit, Uruguay will always have a chance in any game.

Peru need to bounce back

It's fair to say the group stage was a mixed bag for Peru, who were excellent against Bolivia (3-1), unlucky against Venezuela (0-0) and absolutely appalling against Brazil (0-5). The task for coach Ricardo Gareca is to ensure that that last result, last Saturday afternoon in São Paulo, doesn't have any lasting effect on his side as they head into the knockout rounds.

There has already been some bad news in the days since that game: Jefferson Farfán has been forced to pull out of the squad due to injury. His replacement here is likely to be Édinson Flores, with Christian Cueva moving into a more central role; that was actually the preferred combination at last summer's World Cup, so it might yet turn out OK, particularly if Cueva can find some gaps behind Uruguay's flat midfield.

Knockout nous key for Uruguay

Experience counts for a lot once you reach the final stages of a major tournament, and Uruguay have bags of it. Suárez, Cavani, Godín and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera have been playing knockout games for their country since World Cup 2010, for instance, and while their memories aren't all positive, they will know how to handle the stress of the situation.

They are also fundamentally a better side than Peru, particularly in both penalty boxes, and while there is a chance that some of Gareca's more flighty players - Cueva being the obvious example - could pull something out of the hat, it's hard to look past La Celeste. 1.758/11 is a solid enough price for them to reach the semi-finals in 90 minutes.

Cavani can add to tally

Edinson Cavani proved against Chile that he doesn't even need a clear chance to find the net; half a sight of goal will do. His brilliant, instinctive header doubled his tally in this Copa, and there is the sense that he is keen to make up for last time after - incredibly - going goalless across four previous editions of the tournament. He will torment Peru's fragile backline and should be available to score at around 2.56/4 near kick-off.

Jack Lang's Copa América P/L (after group stage)

Staked: 19pts
Returned: 17.93pts
P/L: -1.07pts

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