Peru qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years by beating New Zealand 2-0 on aggregate in the intercontinental play-off thanks to goals from Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos. The South American side are surprisingly ranked 11th best side in the world and set to make their fifth World Cup appearance in Russia this year.
Peru Squad Outlook
Carlos Caceda, Jose Carvallo, Pedro Gallese, Luis Abram, Luis Advincula, Pedro Aquino, Miguel Araujo, Andre Carrillo, Wilder Cartagena, Aldo Corzo, Christian Cueva, Jefferson Farfan, Edison Flores, Paolo Hurtado, Nilson Loyola, Sergio Pena, Andy Polo, Christian Ramos, Alberto Rodriguez, Raul Ruidiaz, Anderson Santamaria, Renato Tapia, Miguel Trauco, Yoshimar Yotun (24-man preliminary squad)
Jefferson Farfan is probably the most well-known player in Peru’s squad, and also their best, thanks to his stints in Europe with Dutch side PSV and German side Schalke, with the forward making over 100 appearances at both. Farfan is Peru’s joint third top-scorer and the 33-year-old is vastly experienced on the big stage, having played in competitions like the Champions League, and that experience will be key in a squad which has never played at a World Cup before.
Joining Farfan going forward will be Benfica winger Andre Carillo who spent last season on-loan at Watford and, due to his relationship with former boss Marco Silva who he played under at Watford and Sporting, could well be playing for a more permanent move to the Premier League at the World Cup (namely Everton with Silva now appointed as their new boss). The 26-year-old is noted for his pace and skill on the ball and will be a potent threat for Peru going forward.
Peru captain Paolo Guerrero is currently in a state of limbo, with the country’s all-time top-scorer currently banned after testing positive for cocaine and metabolite benzoylecgonine and was banned from all competitions for a year by FIFA, meaning he will not be available for the World Cup even though FIFA accepted Guerrero’s explanation that he drank contaminated coca tea. Protests by Peruvians followed and as a result, all the captains of the other nations in Group C have written to FIFA to try and get them to lift the ban. As of writing though, Guerrero is still banned.
Peru’s one to watch is Feyernoord’s 22-year-old midfielder Renato Tapia who is starting to break into the Dutch side’s first XI and has a handful of Champions League appearances under his belt. Tapia’s most impressive performance to date however has come for the national side in a friendly against Croatia in March. Tapia was charged with minimising the obvious midfield threat that the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic provide and did so very effectively, picking up the man-of-the-match award as Peru comfortably won 2-0.
King of the Country
Peru’s best ever player is probably Teofilo Cubillas. Nicknamed El Nene (The Kid), Cubillas helped Peru reach World Cup quarter-finals in 1970 and 1978 as well as win the 1975 Copa America. He has won South American Footballer of the Year and is one of only three players to score five or more goals in two separate World Cup tournaments along with Germany’s Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller.
Who’s the Gaffa
Ricardo Gareca has been Peru’s boss since 2015 and it is his 14th job in management since hanging up his boots in 1994. The 60-year-old Argentinian is famed for his time as a player with Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield, going on to manage the latter, and made over 100 appearances for both clubs. The forward made 20 appearances for Argentina, scoring 5 goals and has done an excellent job at Peru, taking them to the Copa America semi-finals in 2015 and, of course, leading them to the World Cup.
Likely finish in the group: 3rd
Lazy Fan Fact:
In order for Peru to qualify for the play-offs that they eventually won to send them to Russia, they were involved in a controversial 1-1 draw with Colombia as both teams knew before kick-off that a 1-1 result would allow Colombia to qualify outright and send Peru into the play-offs at the expense of Chile.
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