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In a country mired in crisis, Peru welcomes Argentina

LIMA (AP) – In the midst of a political crisis that forced the departure of two presidents and violent street protests with deaths and injuries, Peru welcomes Argentina on Tuesday for the South American qualifiers with the urgency of a victory that will keep it in the race towards the World Cup in Qatar 2022.

Within a week, the Peruvian Congress removed the president, Martín Vizcarra, on corruption charges without conclusive evidence. His interim successor Manuel Merino resigned this Sunday after the murder of two protesters as a result of police repression during massive protests that questioned his legitimacy.

Although the match was questioned, the Peruvian Football Federation confirmed on Monday that the security guarantees are in place to play the match at the National Stadium in Lima.

“I take this opportunity to send a big hug to the Peruvian people because nobody wants this. Hopefully they can all return to normalcy, that they can be calm and well at home, “said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni at a press conference on Monday.

Several players of the Blanquirroja demonstrated on social networks.

“What the people wanted was achieved,” wrote the central Carlos Zambrano on his Instagram account after Merino’s resignation. “But let’s not forget all those who are in Congress, those are the worst, because if not, everything remains the same. Peru Force ”.

Argentina has seven points and is escorting leader Brazil, with eight. Peru has one point as a harvest in three games played, which has put Ricardo Gareca’s team in an uncomfortable eighth position away from the direct qualifying positions.

“It is costing us the start. The last qualifying rounds did not start so well either, “acknowledged goalkeeper Pedro Gallese after the 2-0 defeat against Chile last Friday. “We will fight this until the last because this tournament is tough. We have to add three to fit in the table ”.

One of the causes of Peru’s opaque campaign is the lack of offensive weight due to the injury of the captain and historic scorer Paolo Guerrero. Raúl Ruidíaz, who did not score goals, would leave his place to Gianluca Lapadula, the Italian striker son of a Peruvian who was summoned to Blanquirroja for the first time for this double elimination date.

On the other hand, Gareca will not be able to count on the midfielder Renato Tapia, suspended for accumulating yellow cards. Christian Cueva will be his replacement.

It is undefeated, but Argentina’s performance is still not convincing. In three presentations he has shown lukewarm firepower despite enlisting star Lionel Messi and Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martínez on the offensive.

After his bad game in the 1-1 draw against Paraguay last Thursday, forward Lucas Ocampos loses the title and will be replaced by Nicolás González, who played as an improvised side against the Paraguayans despite the fact that his original position is attack.

On the left side, Nicolás Tagliafico returns, who was out against Paraguay due to a muscle discomfort. And Giovani Lo Celso, who had entered the first half due to Exequiel Palacios’ lumbar injury, will continue in the starting lineup.

Scaloni confirmed that Argentina will play with Franco Armani; Gonzalo Montiel, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Nicolás Otamendi, Tagliafico, Rodrigo De Paul, Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, González, Messi and Martínez.