Bolivia v Peru: Villegas bites back at social media critics
Bolivia coach Eduardo Villegas hit back at social media criticism ahead of their second Copa America outing against Peru, adamant fans cannot expect immediate results from an unfamiliar squad after losing to Brazil.
La Verde were comprehensively beaten 3-0 in their Copa opener, offering precious little in attack as Tite's men took charge of Group A.
Although expectations of Bolivia were low, the performance did not see them put up much of a fight and the team were the subject of significant criticism of social media platforms.
But Villegas thinks Bolivia are being harshly judged, particularly given how inexperienced his squad is, with only five members of the selection having 25 or more caps to their name.
Speaking to Deporte Total ahead of Tuesday's clash with Peru in Rio de Janeiro, Villegas said: "I hope the people who write on social networks get good information from people who understand football, from specialists, and that they explain you cannot have results so soon when it is a different selection.
"I am convinced this group will evolve, but everything is step by step. We cannot jump two steps because we will fall.
"We are analysing all the options. We know Peru will not be Brazil and we are going to commit people [to attack], or try, to generate more depth than we had against Brazil. I see the group well motivated and with intentions to improve."
Peru's start to the campaign was less crushing, though hardly impressive, as they drew 0-0 with Venezuela in a match sorely lacking quality.
Ricardo Gareca's men were considered favourites to join Brazil in progressing from Group A, though the stalemate against Venezuela puts them in a slightly trickier position than they would have hoped.
But Andre Carrillo insists they are not feeling the pressure, and is confident they have the weapons to secure progression.
"There is no pressure, there is motivation," Carrillo told reporters at Peru's training base. "People have come to support us and we have more desire to go on to the field and win the game to move to the next phase.
"We're going to continue with the weapons we have. The team was good offensively, but we're going to have to create more chances.
"I think we're going to do what we have to do and we're going to work tactically well."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bolivia – Edwin Saavedra
Quiet against Brazil, Villegas will hope Saavedra is livelier in an eminently more winnable match. An explosive and decisive player on his day, the midfielder – who was formerly a full-back – will be expected to help provide the service to main striker Marcelo Martins.
Peru – Jefferson Farfan
With Villegas suggesting Bolivia will play on the front foot, Peru should have a lot more attacking space to work with and exploit. Farfan, as one of the more experienced players in the team, will be expected to provide the craft to punish La Verde.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Peru are unbeaten against Bolivia in Copa America games on neutral territory, winning four and drawing two of their six previous meetings.
- Bolivia have lost each of their past six Copa America games, conceding 18 goals and scoring just three.
- Peru are unbeaten in their last six Copa America games (W3 D3), their joint-longest such run in the competition's history (W5 D1 between 1937 and 1939).
- Bolivia have kept only one clean sheet in their past 22 Copa America games (W1 D7 L14), a 0-0 draw against Mexico in 2015.