It’s been a pleasing couple of months for Peru as they returned from Quito with their UFWC title intact and banked another three points in the process. They took the title from Bolivia at the end of September and continued their remarkable run of form to beat Ecuador 2-1 but their next assignment looks significantly tougher. Los Incas travel to face Argentina in Buenos Aires for yet another title decider and they’ll be desperate to cling onto their crown.
Peru were expected to struggle on their travels at the beginning of September as they aimed to retain their UFWC title but the champions proved up to the job. The 2-1 success over Ecuador resulted in the their opponents sacking boss Gustavo Quinteros just days later as Peruvian celebrations had only just started to die down.
Their ninth title win was also an important step forward in their quest to qualify for Russia 2018 and it moved them onto 24 points in the CONMEBOL group after going four matches unbeaten. They will go into their next title match full of confidence and are set to face an underachieving side who sit a place below them in the qualification standings.
Argentina sit 3rd in the all-time UFWC rankings and have a hugely talented squad but have buckled under the pressure in recent months. They’ve won 62 of their 104 UFWC matches and held the title as recently as March 2017. Last time they held a UFWC title match at this stadium they edged out Chile in a nervy 1-0 success and this will be far from straightforward for the former champions.
La Albiceleste lost their title following a disappointing 2-0 loss to Bolivia but this will be new boss Jorge Sampaoli’s first UFWC title match since being appointed at the end of May and he will need his charges to perform on the big stage.
A defeat in Buenos Aires would not only result in Argentina failing to wrestle back the UFWC crown just seven months after losing it but would further damage their World Cup Qualification hopes. They are currently in 5th position and if they don’t start climbing the standings soon they are likely to require an inter-confederation play-off contest with New Zealand in order to ensure their participation in Russia.
Despite their troubles in the CONMEBOL group, bookmakers are still confident of their chances at the tournament and they have been priced up as 5th favourites in the ante-post football betting markets at 9/1 to secure their third World Cup and put the disappointment of their 2014 final defeat behind them.
Peru haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1982 and with their UFWC title at stake they will be keen to make a bright start to this contest. Paolo Hurtado and Edison Flores both scored against Ecuador and are likely to cause plenty of problems from the Argentinean defence. Peru can go level with Colombia in the all-time UFWC rankings with yet another success here and they have absolutely nothing to lose in Buenos Aires.