Copa América: Chile vs. Peru semifinal filled with history

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — The Copa América semifinal between Brazil and Argentina is not the only one filled with history.

Chile vs. Peru on Wednesday doesn’t carry the same sporting rivalry as Brazil vs. Argentina, but it brings together two nations with off-the-field quarrels dating to the 1800s.

Chile and Peru fought in the War of the Pacific from 1879-84, with Chile coming out victorious against a Peru-Bolivia alliance and taking over some key land with access to the Pacific Ocean.

“There’s some added rivalry,” Peru striker Paolo Guerrero said. “Chile is our historic rival.”

Despite a mostly peaceful relationship between the nations these days, tensions can still be felt.

In one of the last matches between them, in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Lima, Peruvian fans booed Chile’s national anthem. After a 4-3 victory, Chile left a message in the changing room calling for respect.

“It’s a clásico that goes beyond football, there’s a lot of rivalry with the Chileans,” Peru defender Miguel Trauco said. “We know what this clásico means, so we will give our best, but in the end it’s only football, we shouldn’t mix things.”

Historically, Chile has gotten the best of Peru in the “Clásico del Pacífico,” winning 44 of the 80 matches. In official competitions, Chile has won seven of the last eight matches, including in the semifinals of the 2016 Copa América.

Peru, which last year made its first World Cup appearance in 36 years, is playing in the semifinals for the third time in four years, but it hasn’t made it to the final — or won the title — since 1975.

Chile, with a golden generation that includes Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal, is trying to become the first team to win three straight South American titles since Argentina in the 1940s. It defeated Argentina in penalty shootouts in the final in 2015 and 2016.

“We want to win this title to make history,” the 32-year-old Vidal said. “It will be difficult, but we hope to have a perfect match against Peru.”

Chile is trying to get over the failure to make it to last year’s World Cup and show that this generation can still succeed. It’s only loss in this Copa América was against Uruguay, when Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda rested some regular starters. In the quarterfinals, it got past a Colombian squad that finished with the best group-stage campaign.

Chile has 12 players from the squad that won the title in 2016, and nine were in the 2015 team that triumphed at home.

Peru, coached by Argentine Ricardo Gareca, eliminated Uruguay in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals, but it was trounced by host Brazil 5-0 in the final group game and advanced only as one of the best two third-place finishers in the three groups.

The semifinal at Arena Grêmio will feature a personal dispute between forwards Guerrero and Chile’s Eduardo Vargas, who are the Copa América’s all-time leading scorers among active players with 12 each.

On Tuesday, host Brazil will play Lionel Messi’s Argentina at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

Source: FOX Sport

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