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Colombia and Peru do battle for Copa América semi-final spot

The first quarter-final of the 2011 Copa América sees two of the tournament’s surprise packages go head-to-head for a place in the final four.

Colombia brushed aside Costa Rica and Bolivia as well as securing a very creditable 0-0 draw against Argentina to finish on top of Group A.

Plenty of Colombian fans wanted rid of head coach Bolillo Gómez in the build-up to the tournament. The beleaguered gaffer was even forced into saying he would step down if Colombia failed to advance to the knock-out rounds.

A few weeks later, Gómez appears to be walking on water with Colombian confidence riding the crest of a wave.

“The team stays the same. When things are going well there’s no need for changes.”

Radamel Falcao should get plenty of opportunities in Cordoba to add to his 2011 Gómez tally of two goals. Falcao to bang home a hat-trick against Peru is priced at 25.00

Colombia’s Gómez is not the only head coach at the Copa América who has been winning plaudits. The transformation of the Peruvian team that finished rock bottom of the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup is the work of Sergio Markarian .

Despite losing Jefferson Farfán and Claudio Pizarro (the Messi and Tevez of Peru) to injury just weeks before the start of the tournament Markarian has put together a formidable Peruvian unit.

A draw against Uruguay and a win over Mexico even allowed Markarian the luxury of resting 10 players for the concluding match in Group C against Chile.

Markarian has done his best to cool expectations back home of reaching the semi-finals by reminding supporters that the main aim remains further on down the road.

“I’ve got to get around to rereading the Book of Deuteronomy that tells the Jews about the promised land. I think this relates to us, the World Cup in Pelé’s country is our promised land.”

Peru to nick a 1-0 win over Colombia is priced at 11.00 with paf.com.

Peru have the upper hand when it comes to head-to-head meetings with Colombia in the Copa América, including a win in the 1975 final. In 13 meetings between the two nations Peru have won six, Colombia have won twice and five matches have ended in draws.

Despite Peru’s historical advantage it’s also worth considering that they have failed to beat Colombia at the Copa América since 1983.

Colombia: Luis Martinez; Camilo Zúñiga, Luis Perea, Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero; Carlos Sanchez, Freddy Guarin, Abel Aguilar; Dayro Moreno, Adrián Ramos, Radamel Falcao.

Peru: Raúl Fernández; Renzo Revoredo, Santiago Acasiete, Alberto Rodríguez, Walter Vílchez; Adán Balvín, Michael Guevara, Reinaldo Cruzado; Luis Advíncula, Juan Vargas, Paolo Guerrero.

To claim your free €15 stake from paf.com send an email to copaamerica@independent.co.uk

For more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.