Why Peru have the upper hand
Since the beginning of this World Cup cycle Peru have played 18 qualifying matches in the most competitive confederation in world football. They have also played 10 Copa America matches. They are used to ‘death or glory’ football. New Zealand had some tough matches in Oceania but have often been restricted to friendlies.
We’re too nice
It’s hard to imagine Peru being intimidated tonight. Though it should be a parochial and passionate sellout crowd in Wellington, it won’t compare to the hostility generated for teams visiting South America.
South America factor
The All Whites haven’t beaten a South American team in 14 attempts, and haven’t played a game on the continent for 10 years.
Peru grabbed an advantage by hosting the second leg. It’s almost always the ideal position in a two-legged playoff, as they can be cautious in the away match before throwing the kitchen sink at home.
Reid, Wood concerns
The All Whites duo, who are the two most valuable players by some distance, are both coming off recent injuries. It’s hoped they are 100 per cent, but there is no certainty and 180 minutes of football in the space of six days is a huge ask.
Not only has New Zealand never beaten a South American team, but Australia failed to get past Argentina (1993) and Uruguay (2001) in earlier playoffs. Their only success came in 2005 with the Socceroos’ golden generation, but they needed a penalty shootout to get past Uruguay.
The Lima fortress
Peru have lost twice in Lima in the past three years. They are unbeaten at home since a 2-0 loss to Brazil a year ago, and in the current qualifying phase neither Argentina, Colombia nor Uruguay could get a win in the Peruvian capital.
Guerrero factor No 1
Banned Guerrero is a cult hero in Peru and his late goal against Colombia rescued their World Cup dream. His teammates will be desperate to give him chance to play in Russia, in what is surely his last World Cup opportunity.