• Peru's Christian Ramos (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring against New Zealand during their World Cup qualifying play-off, in Peru on November 15 (AFP)Source: AFP
New Zealand defender Andrew Durante has identified a major weakness in the Peru team that Australia should try to exploit when the two teams clash at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
By
Philip Micallef

19 Dec 2017 - 11:26 AM  UPDATED 19 Dec 2017 - 11:27 AM

The Socceroos will face Peru in their third match in Group C in Sochi on 27 June (AEST).

With the group also featuring former champions France and Denmark, the match against the South Americans could provide Australia with their best chance of booking a spot in the round of 16.

Durante, who played in both legs of the All Whites' final play-off against the Peruvians last month, said Australia's chances of beating the South Americans would be enhanced if they took full advantage of Peru's suspect defence.

"They are rather weak in the middle of defence and I think they are beatable," said Durante, who plays his club football for Wellington Phoenix.

"Their two central defenders, for example, are good on the ball but they tend to lose their composure when under pressure, make mistakes and play bad passes.

"They struggle when faced with strong centre-forwards like our Chris Wood and in Australia's case it should be the same with Tim Cahill or Tomi Juric.

"At times we had them under the pump and if the Aussies are aggressive and have the right mindset I feel they are very capable of giving them a strong challenge."

We'll need to play 'games of our lives', says Ryan
A pumped-up Mat Ryan says the Socceroos will have to play "three matches of their lives" to reach the knockout stage of next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia, after being drawn against France, Denmark and Peru.

The All Whites last played in a World Cup in 2010 in South Africa where they earned draws in the group stage against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay.

After winning Oceania this year, New Zealand were held to a 0-0 draw by the Peruvians in Wellington but they lost the return in Lima 2-0, as the South Americans booked a spot in their first World Cup since 1982.

Durante has no doubt about the overall strength of the team coached by Argentine Ricardo Gareca.

He warned of their speed on the counter attack and said if the Socceroos sit back against such a gifted team it could be disastrous.

"Peru are technically very strong and comfortable on the ball and their two overlapping fullbacks can cause the opposition all sorts of problems," he said.

"They sat off us in the first game in New Zealand but they really came at us in Lima and showed they are a very good attacking team.

"They are not afraid at times to go long and direct to their main striker Jefferson Farfan, even though he is not that big, so they will try to turn around the opposing defence as quickly as possible.

"I was impressed by their build-up. They are strong going forward and their two holding midfielders are very technical ... they hardly ever lose the ball.

"The Socceroos should take the initiative and pressure them high up the field and force them to go direct which will give Australia every chance to win second balls."

Peru's biggest name is Lokomotiv Moscow striker Farfan, who made his name with PSV in the Netherlands.

But Durante pinpointed playmaker Christian Cueva, who plays his club football with Brazilian side Sao Paulo, as the main threat.

"Right back and captain Alberto Rodriguez is quality and was very good against us in the return leg. He never stopped attacking," he said.

"Their playmaker Cueva is very attack-minded and caused us a lot of trouble.

"He was outstanding in midfield and for such a small guy Farfan was quite dangerous in the air too.

"Of course, Farfan is very experienced and dangerous but we felt that Cueva was more of a threat. Whenever he had the ball it always looked like something was going to happen."