Tactical masterstrokes and possible changes
Ben Strang takes a deeper look at where the All Whites outplayed Peru in Wellington, and examines what might change in Lima.
Anthony Hudson was happy for Peru to have the ball on Saturday, safe in the knowledge that they aren’t a side that will break down a compact unit.
But in allowing Peru to have possession, he set the All Whites up to restrict the space they could play in.
From the front, New Zealand pushed Peru to the wings, shutting off the middle of the field where Yoshimar Yotun, Peru’s best passer, Renato Tapia and
Christian Cueva operate.
Kosta Barbarouses and Marco Rojas were like sheep dogs, cutting off the inside of the field and ushering Peru down the flanks. On those flanks, Peru were completely ineffective.
Shutting down the wings
This was a masterstroke from Hudson.
Once Peru played down the wings, they found a dead-end street. Their best attacking weapons, Andre Carrillo and Edison Flores, had nowhere to go.
It was the ingenious positioning of Hudson’s central midfielders and wingbacks which caused the issues for Peru.
When Peru attacked down the right, right back Aldo Corzo would offer support on attack. Thomas or Wynne would push on to him, forcing a ball for Carrillo. The other man would pick up the winger, and then expect support from the other.
Carrillo then had two options. Try and take on two defenders, in the knowledge that Tommy Smith was lurking in behind in defensive support, or turn around and pass out.
With smart positioning and some serious running, New Zealand shut down Peru’s best attacking weapons and they barely fired a shot. What changes will be made? Expect Peru to work harder on their movement in the final third.
During the opening 30 minutes, Carrillo, Flores and Cueva were in almost free roles, roaming the length of the pitch, and that caused New Zealand some issues.
Isolating Jefferson Farfan
This was a byproduct of New Zealand pressing Peru into the wide areas.
Playing out of position as Peru’s striker, Farfan had a quiet game. Very seldom was he within 20 yards of a team-mate, and when he did get the ball he had Smith, Winston Reid and Michael Boxall breathing down his neck.
What changes will be made? One of two things would appear likely. Either they replace Farfan with a proper striker in Raul Ruidiaz, who is nicknamed the Peruvian Messi, or they play them up front together.
The latter would be a better option if you’re trying to combat three centrebacks.
All Whites possession
New Zealand were far from fantastic with the ball at their feet, but were given more time than usual on the ball.
Top sides usually press New Zealand into making mistakes on the ball. They lack confidence to string together passes generally, resorting to the traditional Kiwi hoof forward. Peru didn’t do that, though. They didn’t press high, allowing New Zealand time to pick a pass.
That was with and without Chris Wood on the field. While Peru dealt OK with Barbarouses playing a target man role, as you’d expect, Wood was another story. His size, physicality and touch were all class in his cameo, and with support runners giving the holdup man support, the All Whites found success in the final 15 minutes.
What changes will be made? For one, Wood is likely to start. Peru will have another thing to think about at the back from the start, shifting New Zealand’s attacking game out of neutral.
Expect Peru to push higher and prevent New Zealand from having any time on the ball. They can’t really shut down Wood, so they need to shut down his service.
In the process, Peru should create more goal scoring opportunities. Most of their World Cup qualifying goals came when winning the ball inside the opponents’s half.
The All Whites, of course, will be more confident in their abilities following their first leg draw. Expect them to still hoof it forward, but with more confidence under pressure.
Before the game, I called for New Zealand to switch to four at the back and to have wide men up front.
Here’s the thing. When the All Whites shut down Peru’s attack they way they did, and Wood showed just how much of a threat he can be in just 15 minutes on the field, forget what I was thinking.
Hudson was right to play the 5-3-2 formation. Defensively, they were superb, and on attack New Zealand showed they have enough quality to create chances.
Peru also lined up as expected, with a 4-2-3-1 formation. That may change for the second leg.
It would be no surprise to see more of a 4-4-2 formation, with one of Cueva, Carrillo and Flores dropping out for a second striker.
Alberto Rodriguez and Michael Boxall compete for a ball.