Two of the 32 teams participating in this year’s World Cup in Russia will play a friendly Friday night at Hard Rock Stadium in hopes of learning how well they match up against other world-class competition.
Peru and Croatia, which are already training in Miami, will play at 8 p.m. Friday with what could ultimately be their national teams for the competition that begins June 14.
“We have to improve. The players who were left out of the friendly have a chance to be on the final list in the World Cup,” said Peru’s manager Ricardo Gareca, whose team is training on the soccer field of the Sawgrass Grand Hotel in Miami. “[Jefferson] Farfán will be able to play in any attacking position and [Paolo] Guerrero must be ready.”
The Peruvian national team will be able to measure its ability against such top players as Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Iván Rakitic, one of the best midfields of the World Cup. In addition, Croatia, which is training at Barry University, boasts a powerful attack that is led by Mario Mandzukic of Juventus and Ivan Perisic of Inter Milan.
On the Peruvian side, striker Guerrero will not play because of FIFA sanctions, but Gareca count on forwards Farfán, Raul Ruidíaz and Beto da Silva.
“We have the important players. I cannot assure a definitive list. The possibility remains open for anyone,” Gareca said. “We have a lot of players for a definitive list. We are not worried.”
His current lineup has Carlos Cáceda, Luis Advíncula, Miguel Araujo, Anderson Santamaría, Miguel Trauco, Yoshimar Yotun, Renato Tapia, Edinson Flores, André Carrillo, Christian Cueva and Farfán.
Peru is in Group C with France, Australia and Denmark. Croatia will play in Group D with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.
Despite it being a friendly match, fans can expect a competitive game.
Hosting Douglas’ soccer teams
The Miami Dolphins will host the Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ soccer teams for the Friday friendly.
On Thursday, soccer players will watch Croatia’s practice at Hard Rock Stadium. And on Friday, the players, coaches and their families will be guests.
Hard Rock Stadium will observe a moment of silence for the tragedy that occurred last month in Parkland. The student-athletes will then be paired with players and procede out to stand on field for their respective national anthems.