Peru-Denmark Match Report: 5 Takeaways

Definitely the first game where the result stings. Peru was utterly more entertaining, more positive, more interesting, more aspirational, and created far more chances. But they didn't finish. They might have had a penalty at the 2nd minute--had it been called, VAR would not have overturned it, but what ref wants to call a PK in the first minutes (especially if it might get overturned).

Five Takeaways:

1. Peru captured me, hook, line, sinker. Positive, attacking, focused, cohesive, playing to feet with come lovely combinations and appropriately timed trickery. You don't get out of the South American qualifiers without a ton of quality, and these guys are for real. The better team today...and the loser. I knew Cueva was in trouble the second the camera latched on to him--told Leslie "he's terrified." Always sad to see that happen (a blown PK), particularly given that the kid had quite a good second half, but no one will remember any of that. Loved seeing Guerrero; as Mariano Trujillo was angling for, he gave them a very different look, calmer close in, and his cheeky back heel barely missed. Peru had their chances and simply didn't finish them. The coach was from the central casting of long haired coaches who may or may not be a genius; Careca certainly hasn't disqualified himself from this title. I really like this team and hope they can claw their way back into it. Loudest fans yet, too. Fingers crossed that they can have a big run yet. Oddly enough, I'd say that France is a team that will give them a chance to get forward without such a compact defense to face. Could be interesting.

2. Eriksen was really a petulant brat for most of the game, bitching at his players, looking like he was an 8-year old dropped off at a playdate he didn't want to be at. The disdain for his teammates was palpable. His free kicks were crappy--especially for him, and he failed to finish a 1 v 1 (though credit to the keeper). He did, however, lay on a great ball for Poulsen, who still had plenty to do...

3. Poulsen, the Leibzig Red Bull winger, was the man of the match for me, because he covered huge ground, was totally cool on the finish, and had several big defensive plays, and was a presence in the air all game. He's a cool player with more creativity than the rest of the gang.

4. Kjaer, Christensen, and Schmeichel were all superb. Everything really came down to them, because much of the game was an onslaught that they needed to manage. Christensen had a few high-risk, high-reward tackles that he executed perfectly, and Kjaer is just a pro. Schmeichel--well, we see him do this regularly. Few mistakes, strong in the box, makes himself big. I did not find any one save spectacular but he is a rock behind the reds.

5. Anyone who fondly remembers the Great Danes of the late 80s-early 90s, who played brilliant attacking football, cannot help but notice the yawning chasm between these teams. Can they click better? Probably. But this is going to be essentially negative soccer: defend and hope you find a chance.

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