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Peru and Colombia have had a friendly relationship on the soccer pitch for nearly a century. Dating back to the Bolivarian games in 1938, they’ve had a back and forth record among several different international competitions.
The Bolivarian Games, a sports competition inspired by the 1936 summer Olympics, was what first brought the national teams of Peru and Colombia together. Through decades of competition, they’ve been somewhat evenly matched that started with Peru having the upper hand. Colombia eventually drew even during the 60’s and 70’s, then finally started to overtake them in the mid-80’s. From 1938 until today, Peru has won 18 matches, Colombia has won 24, and there have been 22 draws.
The Bolivarian Games
Created in honor of Simon Bolivar and inspired by the 1936 summer Olympics, it originally only had participants from 6 countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Equador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Today, that list has expanded to include Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Paraguay. The first-ever Bolivarian Games, which ran from August 6 to August 22 of 1938, had a total of 716 participants in a wide range of sports, but our main interest here is the beginning of the friendly rivalry between Peru and Colombia.
Held in Bogota, Colombia, the Soccer event of the Bolivarian games saw Peru and Colombia face off for the very first time during the second game of the series, in which Peru dominated Colombia with a 4-2 defeat. Peru would go on to earn a Gold Medal in soccer over the other teams (except Panama), with 4 wins and no draws or losses. They scored a total of 18 goals scored, 14 more than any other team during the competition.
Due to the events of World War 2, the 2nd Bolivarian Games wouldn’t be held again until 1951, and this time a fresh new team gave Colombia the ability they needed to pay Peru back for their stunning defeat the last time around, resulting in a narrow 1-0 victory for Colombia. They managed to repeat this same performance one more time in the Bolivarian Games of 1954.
However, in 1961, Peru finally managed to strike back with a fresh new team, just managing to overcome Colombia with a 3-2 upset, and a more decisive defeat 8 days later at 2 to 0 for Peru.
When they met again in the next Bolivarian Games in 1973, over a decade later, they seemed much more closely matched, with one tie and a 1-0 win for Peru. But the next matchups in 1985, and the new batch of players, saw a different, much more fierce Colombia, who won their first match at 1-0, and devastated Peru with a 3-0 shutout. This was the last time they would play each other in the Bolivarian games, but not at all the last time they’d see each other on the soccer field.
The Copa America
The second league in which Peru and Colombia faced off was the Copa America, then called the South American Championship. Their record started off much like in the Bolivarian Games, with Peru overpowering Colombia with ease. The 20th game in the tournament. Colombia was clearly exhausted and outclassed, as they lost 5-1 against Peru.
This track record was much the same over the coming years, with Peru destroying Colombia 4-0 in 1947, and handily defeating them again in 1951.
The 60’s were clearly the beginning of Colombia’s rise in Soccer. In the 1963 Copa America, Colombia was able to tie with Peru at 1-1. Though they were still relatively low on the soccer totem pole, they were steadily improving.
In 1975, both Peru and Colombia, fielding their strongest teams yet, clashed head to head in the Finals. In their first game, on October 16, Colombia scored late in the first half, then held Peru to a standstill for the rest of the game, securing their 1-0 final score. However, they could not hold forever.
On the 22nd, an early own goal by Jose Zarate from Colombia shattered the Colombian morale, and a second goal by Oswaldo Ramirez at 44 minutes swept away the shards, leading Peru to an easy 2-0 victory.
Their deciding match was played on October 28, and was hard-fought. Colombia seemed determined to make up for their blunder in the last game and fought hard, but a 25-minute goal by Peru’s Hugo Sotil was just enough for Peru to win their second match of the finals, and their place as the Champions.
Since then, Peru and Colombia have had a more even rivalry, with Colombia pulling ahead ever so slightly in recent years, but they never seemed to recapture the fire and vigor of that time they faced off for the championship in 1975. From then on, they were more evenly matched, with more draws than wins for either team, and an even number of wins for both.
FIFA World Cup/International Friendlies
It wasn’t until 1961 that Peru and Colombia faced off on the world stage, and by then Colombia was steadily beginning to pick up momentum against their Andean rivals, with a win and a draw.
For a variety of reasons, they would not face off again for international spectators until 1981. Peru maintained their legacy of strength in the 70’s shutting Colombia down 2-0.
Their old back and forth continued, but Colombia steadily trending stronger than Peru. Though there were plenty of wins, losses and draws to go around, Colombia was picking up steam, starting in the 60’s and continuing on through the 70’s and 80’s. Though the Peruvian team of the 70’s and early 80’s was quite strong, nobody is young forever, and eventually, they had to bring in the new guard.
This reflects strongly in their history of FIFA and other friendly International matches. Though there were still plenty of draws, and Peru got in a few good licks here and there, Colombia has steadily begun to dominate their rivalry, turning over their record from fewer wins and more losses, to more draws than losses, and now to more wins than draws.
It was the 80’s and 90’s of FIFA where generations of experience and determination culminated in the Colombian team’s reign over Peru. Across all tournaments, the Colombian team was handing Peru a steady stream of losses. 2 losses in the 1993 World Cup, A draw in 1996 and 1999.
Colombia then began winning more and more, with wider and wider margins. Colombia defeated Peru 1-0 in 2000, 2-0 in 2004, 5-0 in 2005. That’s when the Colombian Momentum seemed to break, either because their quality dipped or the Peruvians rose to their challenge.
Whatever the case, their modern record is more reminiscent of their older one, particularly of the golden age of Peru vs Colombia in the 70’s when they were both at their relative peaks. Though there are plenty of draws, often with 1 or 2 goals scored by both sides, Colombia seems to be the one with the slight edge nowadays, with 6 wins, 1 loss and 4 draws in the last decade.
We can only hope that this is a sign that Peru is building up to step back into the international spotlight as they did all those years ago.