For all the glamor that accompanies the Copa America, one of the most enjoyable facets of the tournament’s crazy set up is how it enhances the possibility for less illustrious sides to put together a prosperous run. This quarter-final clash between Peru and Bolivia is testament to that.

The former split group winners Brazil and an underwhelming Colombia in the group stages to finish second, acquitting themselves well in matches against the aforementioned sides as well as Venezuela.

But Bolivia’s appearance in the last eight really represents the biggest shock of the tournament to date; La Verde’s 3-2 victory over Ecuador was their first competitive win on foreign soil in 20 years, after all.

With a semi-final spot up for grabs, both sides have the chance to further exceed expectations with a victory. Perhaps, with Brazil, Colombia and Argentina all in the other half of the draw, these nations may even be dreaming of a final appearance too.

It makes this quarter-final showdown in Temuco, even though it may not command the same gravitas as some of the knockout encounters, an intriguing one. Here’s a comprehensive look at some of the key factors to consider ahead of Thursday’s match.

TV schedule for viewers in the United States:

Peru vs. Bolivia, 7:30pm ET kickoff time (pre-game starts at 6:30pm ET) — exclusively on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Espańol.

Programming note: In the United States, beIN SPORTS has the exclusive English-language and Spanish-language rights to the tournament. If your cable or satellite provider doesn’t offer beIN SPORTS, or you want to watch the games on your computer, mobile phone, tablet or Roku, sign up for a free trial to fuboTV to watch the games. And if you like what you see, fuboTV is just $6.99 per month. It’s completely legal and features HD-quality streams, but is only available to soccer fans in the United States.


Peru Expected to Progress

In the group stages, Peru seemed to relish the mantle of being underdogs. While they were unable to beat Brazil or Colombia, they sprung out of the blocks to catch the latter off guard—only losing to a last minute Douglas Costa goal—before expertly nullifying Colombia’s array of attacking talent in their final group game, booking their spot in the knockout stages.

It’s peculiar that Ricardo Gareca’s side now find themselves as overwhelming favorites in a match with the tournament whittled down to just eight teams. For a side that enjoys soaking up pressure and counter-attacking, that shift in dynamic is a stylistic challenge they’ll have to overcome.

As such, the onus will now be on the attacking players in this squad to step out from the defenders’ shadow. Veteran striker Claudio Pizarro is a clinical finisher still, but he’s reliant on service from the Peru midfield, as well as forward partner Paolo Guerrero, to showcase those goalscoring instincts effectively.

Encouragingly for La Blanquirroja, star winger Jefferson Farfan, who has been struggling with allergy problems at the tournament so far, is likely to return to the starting XI for this one after being benched against Colombia. It’ll be up to him and midfield maestro Christian Cueva to add to sparkle to Peru’s bursts forward.

It’s also worth remembering that although a semi-final appearance would vastly exceed expectations for Gareca’s team, a lot of this squad were in situ when Peru finished third at the tournament four years ago. Indeed, there’s definite pedigree in the group, but much will depend on how they cope mentally with being big favorites to triumph.



La Verde Hoping to Continue Historic Run

Bolivia’s propensity for failure on the road meant that there were few expecting them to pick up any points whatsoever at this tournament, especially in Group A alongside hosts Chile, Mexico and Ecuador. But La Verde have surpassed those lowly expectations. And then some.

They’ve shown a little bit of everything at this tournament so far. While their game plan rarely deviates from sitting deep and trying to capitalize on the counter against teams pressing forward, they’Ve proven that they can be both defensively diligent—as was the case in a 0-0 draw against El Tri—and fluid in attack; Ecuador will attest to the latter after losing 3-2 to the minnows.

That triumph was an historic one for Bolivia, as aforementioned. But progression into the semi-finals of the competition, which would represent their best effort since finishing as runners-up when hosts back in 1997, would be a remarkable showing for a side that were written off as whipping boys by many pre-tournament, this writer included.

Their progression has been laced with good fortune, as La Verde were outplayed for long spells in all of their group matches, but this is a team which grafts, tackles and seems to take great enjoyment from every moment spent in the competition. It’s this kind of attitude which makes them dangerous opposition for Peru.

There have been a few standout players. Skipper Ronald Raldes has been rock solid at the back in the main, although the whole side were ran ragged in a 5-0 defeat against Chile last time out, while Marcelo Moreno has been Bolivia’s most prominent creative force, leading the line with endeavor and flair; he’s got one goal and one assist in the Copa so far.


Key Areas

Cueva’s Influence for Peru: In a tournament that has been bereft of virtuoso displays from attacking midfield men so far, Peru’s Cueva has been one of the most exciting players to watch.

He’s been stationed in a variety of roles for Blanquirroja in Chile; either out wide, off the striker or at the heart of Peru’s midfield. But against a Bolivia team that are unlikely to show much in terms of attacking ambition, getting the 23-year-old on the ball as much as possible in pockets of space will be vital to their chances of putting together some threatening attacking bursts.

Bolivia Stopping Crosses: With Pizarro and Guerrero poised to lead the line, Peru have a physical, aerial presence at the point of their attack and Bolivia’s defenders could find their rumbustious influences tough to handle.  In addition, if Farfan does come back into the side, the Blanquirroja have a player who can provide devilish deliveries into the box.

For La Verde, stopping the Schalke winger bombing down the outside and whipping these balls in is going to be so important to their chances. It makes the job of full-backs Leonel Morales and Miguel Hurtado, who has had a brilliant tournament to date, vital in keeping Bolivia’s often precarious defensive structure intact.


Verdict: Peru 2-0 Bolivia

Bolivia have already proven that writing them off is a foolish move, but it’s tough to see them getting past Peru in this one.

The fact that a core of this Peru team went far in the 2011 Copa will put them in great shape and this extra does of experience will give them an edge. Bolivia’s players, while their efforts have been heroic to this point, may just find the pressure of a knockout game a little too hot to handle.

Peru may need to be patient, but if they can free Farfan on the flanks and find Cueva with room operate as the game goes on, they’ll vanquish La Verde with ease.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball