by Michael Place
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Peru and Brazil will meet in the Copa America final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on Sunday, marking the hosts' first fixture at the temple of South American football since 2013. Following are seven key talking points ahead of the fixture:
GROUP STAGE ROUT
The last time the two teams met was in the final round of the competition's group stage, when the hosts prevailed 5-0 in Sao Paulo. The result could have been even worse for Peru if not for a late penalty saved by goalkeeper Pedro Gallese against Gabriel Jesus.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, Peru were not without their chances - particularly in the first half, when Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfan and Christian Cueva looked dangerous before Brazil took control. Farfan has since been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.
Peru were buoyed on Saturday by good news surrounding the fitness of midfielder Edison Flores.
The 25-year-old's availability had been in doubt after his hobbled off in the 3-0 semifinal win over Chile on Wednesday. But he moved freely in the team's final training session at Nilton Santos stadium and is expected to start Sunday's match.
The Morelia attacker has scored twice in this tournament, becoming a central component in the plans of manager Ricardo Gareca, particularly since Farfan's injury.
Forward Andre Carrillo might not have attracted the attention of Guerrero or Flores during this competition, but his impact has been no less important.
The 28-year-old Benfica player - who spent last season on loan at Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal - has started both of Peru's last two matches in the place of Farfan and laid off two assists in the semifinal win over Chile.
JESUS-FIRMINO DOUBLE ACT
Before this tournament, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino were rivals for Brazil's central striker role and were rarely deployed at the same time by manager Tite. However the pair have started the past three matches and their chemistry has improved with each outing.
In the semifinal against Argentina, Firmino set up Jesus for Brazil's first goal before the latter returned the favor after halftime. Firmino has been the designated No. 9 with Jesus starting on the right, however both players have been given licenses to roam and even swap roles in Tite's fluid 4-3-3 formation.
GUERRERO STILL FIRING
Paolo Guerrero has shown that despite having turned 35, his powers are not waning. Peru all-time leading scorer has netted twice in this tournament while his link-up play with Flores, Cueva and Carrillo has been key to Peru's ability to unlock rival defenses.
Brazil will be well aware of the threat posed by the former Bayern Munich player given that he has been based in the country since 2012: with spells at Corinthians, Flamengo and his current club Internacional.
Brazil's 36-year-old captain has led by example during the Copa America with some vintage performances at right-back. None were better than his display against Argentina, when he belied his age by tormenting the Albiceleste defense with his dashing runs and expert passing.
He set up Brazil's first goal at the Mineirao by dribbling past two defenders and laying off a deft pass to Roberto Firmino, whose cross was thumped into the net by Gabriel Jesus.
Brazil have not scored a goal from a free-kick since September 2014, when Neymar curled in a 25-yard effort in 1-0 win over Colombia in Miami. In the absence of injured talisman Neymar, set-piece duties during the Copa America have been shared by Philippe Coutinho and Alves.
In general terms, statistics are overwhelmingly in Brazil's favor heading into Sunday's duel. The five-time world champions have completed 2,612 passes in their five Copa America matches compared to Peru's 1,447. The hosts have also had 28 dribbles compared to Peru's 22, 45 crosses compared to 23 and 50 shots on target compared to 22. Peru lead the turnover category with 79 to Brazil's 73.
This will be Brazil's first match at the Maracana since the 2013 Confederations Cup final when the hosts beat Spain 3-0. Peru played at the venue in a 3-1 win over Bolivia during the competition's group stage on June 22.