Peru will take on Denmark at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk in Group C’s second game of the day on Saturday evening.
The two nations are joint favourites to finish second in the group behind France, so a win for either side on Saturday could go a long way to deciding their contrasting fates in the competition.
Peru finished 5th in the South American qualifying group to secure a two-legged playoff against New Zealand. La Blanquirroja were held to a goalless draw in Wellington, but managed to defeat the All Whites 2-0 in Lima to confirm their place at the World cup for the first time since 1982.
Denmark also had to qualify via the playoffs after they finished second in their qualifying group behind Poland. The Danes were handed a tough draw against Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland, but ran out comfortable winners after producing a remarkable performance in Dublin to thrash the home side 5-1 and secure their fifth World Cup appearance.
Saturday will mark the first ever encounter between the two countries.
Ricardo Gareca will be leading Peru. The Argentine spent most his playing years in South America, featuring for the likes of Boca Juniors, River Plate and Independiente before he retired in 1994.
The former striker, who also racked up 20 international caps in which he scored five goals, started his managerial career with Argentine club Talleres in 1996 and has managed a further nine clubs since.
He was appointed as Peru’s manager in 2015, his first job at international level. In the same year, he led the previously struggling Incas to a semi-final in the Copa America, although his latest World Cup achievement is considered to be his finest.
Norwegian Åge Hareide will be taking charge of Denmark. The former defender spent most of his career playing in Norway, although he also featured for Norwich and Manchester City before he retired in 1987.
Hareide became a player-manager for Molde in 1985. He had two spells at the club totalling ten years before he left to join Swedish side Helsingborgs IF in 1998. He became Norway’s manager in 2003 but stepped down in 2008 after having failed to take them to any major tournaments.
The 64-year-old was appointed as Denmark’s boss in 2015 after his predecessor Morten Olsen had stepped down following the Danes’ failure to qualify for the 2016 European Championships.
Recorded last six games:
Peru have been handed a major boost ahead of the competition with the return of star player and captain Paolo Guerrero. The Flamengo striker is Peru’s all-time top scorer with 34 goals in 88 caps.
Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner was left out of Denmark’s 23-man squad due to a groin injury, while Brentford defender Andreas Bjelland was also left out of the squad because of injury concerns.
Peru (4-2-3-1): Galesse; Trauco, Ramos, Rodriguez, Advincuia; Tapia, Yotun; Flores, Cueva, Carrillo; Guerrero
Denmark (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Larsen; Delaney, Kvist; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; Jorgensen
Both teams should be heading into the game with some confidence following some recent impressive performances and results.
Going forward, both sides possess some quality, although Denmark are arguable more reliant on one player in Christian Eriksen. The Spurs midfielder had probably his best international performance in Dublin, although the lack of Irish midfield did help. If Peru can stop Eriksen, they can stop Denmark.
Prediction: Peru 2-1 Denmark