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Peru and Denmark will square off in Group C on Saturday as both nations look to get their World Cup campaign underway with a win in Saransk.


Denmark qualified for the tournament by coming through a playoff fixture with Republic of Ireland, as did Peru who easily overcome New Zealand in the OFC–CONMEBOL tie.

Peru may currently sit in 11th place in the FIFA World Rankings but La Blanquirroja are making their first appearance on the grandest stage since 1982.

A return to the World Cup has been met with jubilation back home but the South American nation's preparations have been hit with the controversy surrounding Paolo Guerrero, who faced the prospect of missing the tournament due to a drugs ban.

A suspension of six months was extended to over a year - ruling the 34-year-old out of the competition - but a successful appeal means that the team's talisman gets the opportunity to lead his nation in Russia.

Given the furore over Guerrero, you can be forgiven for thinking that the participation of the forward represents Peru's only hope, but this is a side who have not suffered defeat in 15 matches.

Peru only secured fifth place in qualifying - leading to their spot at the event needing to be earned in a two-legged spot - but Ricardo Gareca has worked wonders to transform the squad in the space of three years.

France are undoubtedly the standout team in Group C but Peru will not be overawed by playing Denmark and Australia and will believe that they can achieve a place in the knockout rounds.

Their backline is made up of players plying their trade in South America, but members of the squad have made a name for themselves in Europe with Andre Carrillo - who spent last season at Watford - and Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan expected to make an impact in Russia.

A part of Peru will be content with simply getting the opportunity to showcase their talent against some of the world's best but if victory is achieved against Denmark on Saturday, there is no reason why Gareca's team cannot replicate Costa Rica's efforts in Brazil four years ago.

Denmark have failed to qualify for two of the last three World Cup Finals but there is cautious optimism that this squad is capable of putting together a strong run in Russia.

There would have been disappointment after finishing as runners-up to Poland in their qualification group, but the emphatic victory over Republic of Ireland in November suggested that Age Hareide's team should not be satisfied with getting out of Group C.

Remarkably, Denmark also hold a 15-match unbeaten run heading into this tournament and although they have not defeated any of the world's top teams during that period, Denmark can match their opponents for confidence.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen is regarded as the team's key man having contributed 22 goals and numerous assists in his 78 outings for his country, but there is quality throughout this squad.

Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen offer experience and talent at the back, new Borussia Dortmund signing Thomas Delaney provides steel in the centre of the pitch and their forward line features two players tipped for big things.

Only time will tell whether the World Cup stage has come too soon for Yussuf Poulsen and Kasper Dolberg but whether they make an impact at this major tournament or the next, the future is bright for Denmark.

Nevertheless, while there will be a feeling of perspective having not featured on the big stage since 2012, those associated with Denmark will expect success and this team is capable of reaching the last eight.

Like with opponents Peru, however, Saturday's match could define their tournament and avoiding defeat will feel like a must to Hareide.

Team News

Hareide is unlikely to throw up too many surprises for Denmark's opener, with the big decision likely to be who starts out of Christensen and Jannik Vestergaard in defence.

Ajax frontman Dolberg is expected to be kept in reserve, with Pione Sisto and Nicolai Jorgensen getting the nod alongside Eriksen and Poulsen in the front four.

As for Peru, the main conundrum for Gracea could revolve around who to start out of Farfan and Edison Flores, who play his club football with Aalborg BK in Denmark.

Winger Paolo Hurtado is likely to be kept in reserve, but expect the Vitoria Guimaraes player to make an appearance during the second half.

Peru possible starting lineup:
Gallese; Advincula, Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco; Tapia, Yotun; Carrillo, Farfan, Cueva; Guerrero

Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Christensen, Kjaer, Larsen; Kvist, Delaney; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; Jorgensen

Head To Head

You may not be surprised to discover that this weekend's fixture is the first ever meeting between the two nations.

To prepare for the fixture, Peru have played three friendlies against European opposition with their last outing having previously come against Switzerland back in June 2014.

Denmark has also chosen to prepare accordingly with contests being held against both Chile and Mexico.

Prediction: Peru 1-3 Denmark

Both nations will be aware that a victory in this game will go a long way to securing a place in the last 16 of the tournament and we think that the greater big-game experience in the Denmark ranks will prove decisive. Peru are full of confidence but Eriksen and co could prove too much in Saransk.










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