This game will see the 32nd and final participant at the 2018 World Cup decided. Peru are strong favourites to win it but New Zealand can be awkward opponents as they proved last week when the sides played out a 0-0 draw in Wellington. There’s reason to think they can at least be very competitive again here and it’s hard to see Peru running riot.
Peru are unbeaten in 9 matches heading into this one and they will take confidence from that but it’s worth noting only one of those matches saw them win by more than a single goal and that was a friendly with Jamaica. They also haven’t won any of their last 16 home World Cup qualifiers by more than a single goal and with their star striker Paolo Guerrero unavailable having tested positive for cocaine use, they are a bit short on firepower for this one.
He’s also their captain and one of their most experienced players so his absence is a blow in such a huge game. They will have fantastic backing in Lima as Peru look to make it to their first World Cup since way back in 1982 but that could also be a burden. All the pressure is on the hosts, who are as short as 1/5 for the win with some bookies, but this really is uncharted territory in terms of their recent history and there will be plenty of tension around too.
New Zealand by contrast will be able to play with a bit more freedom. Although they failed to win last week, they can at least take heart from having not conceded an away goal, which could yet prove crucial. Although slightly limited in terms of quality, they are an organised outfit and have only lost by more than a goal in one of their last 6 internationals, 3 of which were against sides that will be in Russia next summer.
Although rightly the favourites, Peru look a little short in the betting here and backing New Zealand +2.0 Asian Handicap looks to offer value (Asian Handicap betting explained here). That’s backed up by how cautious the South Americans have been in their last two competitive games. They settled for a draw in the final minutes against Colombia, when a win would have taken them to the World Cup outright. The team were also criticised by their national media for being too negative in last week’s 1st Leg so they don’t seem like a side that will take a risk and chase a big win, particularly with the stakes so high.
In the absence of Guerrero, backing Edison Flores to score anytime could be worth a bet. He has scored in 6 of his last 11 international appearances.
Backing Both Teams to Score could also be worth a flutter, given both teams have scored in 9 of Peru’s last 11 home World Cup qualifiers and given New Zealand should have Chris Wood back from the off here and are always capable of nicking a goal from a set-piece.