Peru has had plenty of problems in the last years when it comes to their National Team. The lack of discipline from the important players, bad results and the fact that they haven’t qualified to a World Cup since the one held in Spain back in 1982 are all things that have the team eager to prove their doubters wrong. The processes conducted by Sergio Markarian and Pablo Bengoechea didn’t work out so now the team is under the management of an experienced manager like Ricardo Gareca but it remains to be seen if he’ll have enough time to convince the players of playing like he wants to.
Peru, on paper, has a strong team – particularly on midfield and attack as they have plenty of experienced players like Juan Vargas, Paolo Guerrero and Claudio Pizarro, among others. They don’t have the same experience on defense though and ultimately that could prove to be a problem since they will have to play against the likes of Brazil and Colombia on the Group Stage. They will certainly have a tough challenge ahead of themselves but Gareca already said he “believes in the potential of the Peruvian players” and he believes they have enough talent to make noise in Chilean soil.
Gareca has only managed two games but he has established a clear foundation when it comes to the tactic the team will use: Peru will play with a 4-2-3-1 where they will based their system the possession, the discipline and the speed of their attacking players.
The absence of former FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was expected to be a big blow but Pedro Gallese has been more than capable of holding down the forte and it’s not crazy to think that he can be the GK of the future for Peru – he has responded every time he has been required.
The defensive line will have a core similar to the one that featured in the 2011 Copa America: Luis Advincula will play on the right flank, Carlos Zambrano will be the leader of the defence and Yoshimar Yotun will handle the LB if he’s able to recover from an injury. Carlos Ascues and Christian Ramos are battling for the second CB spot but all signs point towards Ascues being Gareca’s first choice.
The midfield zone will have three central midfielders – two will have defensive duties and the other one will be a playmaker that will play slightly ahead of the other two. Josepmir Ballon and Carlos Lobaton are expected to be the CMs while Christian Cueva or Jefferson Farfan – who’s returning to the NT after a two-year absence – are the primary option to be the playmakers.
The right flank of the attack will be owned by Andre Carrillo while Juan Manuel Vargas will play on the opposite side, leaving Paolo Guerrero – who recently completed a move from Corinthians to Flamengo – as the lone striker up top.
Peru can match up with the best of them when it comes to attacking talent but it remains to be seen if they will be able to do a decent job on the defensive end. If that’s the case, then they could easily advance to the next round and from there, anything would be a benefit for a team that’s looking to regain their best form for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers that will start towards the end of this year.
Official 23-man roster:
GK: Pedro Gallese (Juan Aurich), Salomón Libman (César Vallejo), Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal).
Defenders: Carlos Zambrano (Eintracht Frankfurt, GER), Christian Ramos (Juan Aurich), Jair Céspedes (Juan Aurich), Hansell Riojas (César Vallejo), Pedro Requena (César Vallejo), Luis Advíncula (Vitória Setúbal, POR), Yoshimar Yotún (Malmö, SWE).
Midfielders: Josepmir Ballón (Sporting Cristal), Carlos Lobatón (Sporting Cristal), Carlos Ascues (Melgar), Joel Sánchez (Universidad San Martín), Christian Cueva (Alianza Lima), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina, ITA), Paolo Hurtado (Pacos de Ferreira, POR), Edwin Retamoso (Real Garcilaso).
Forwards: André Carrillo (Sporting Lisbon, POR), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich, GER), Jefferson Farfán (Schalke 04, GER), Yordy Reyna (RB Leipzig, GER), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo, BRA).