Featured Image: La Libre
When Cristian Benavente scores, an angel gets its wings.
That’s what I believe, anyways. The Peruvian playmaker, buoyed by his sensational display versus Costa Rica, picked up where he left off in Sporting Charleroi’s win on Sunday. Benavente has fantastic in general this season and is showing no signs of slowing down.
However, there were a couple of Peruvians who struggled in their returns. Chief among them was Luis Advíncula, who seems to be in a funk as of late.
As usual, I broke down their performances in detail (and seven others) in the latest Peruvians abroad roundup.
One player who performed admirably was Edison Flores, even though Monarcas Morelia lost 2-0 to Cruz Azul and subsequently knocked them out of the Liguilla places.
Despite starting both matches for Peru and playing just three days after the Costa Rica match, Flores was surprisingly dynamic versus Cruz Azul.
Yet again, Flores cut inside to occupy the central channels, especially in Zone 14. This has been prevalent in Flores’ last four appearances for Peru as well, which is why it’s no surprise that it’s coincided with his best performances for the national team in 2018.
Most of Flores’ goals, be it at club level or with Peru, were usually scored in central positions, so when he’s pulling off these sequences, that’s a positive. It’s classic Orejas.
Pay special attention to this one, though. Flores initiates the first pass at the beginning of the clip before slowly drifting towards the box. However, he never leaves Zone 14 and that allows him to shoot from distance. It was blocked, but attempting shots is always good.
But we also saw Flores torching Cruz Azul’s defence from the flanks as well. The entire move deserved a goal at the end of it, too.
Also of note: Flores finished the match with more ball recoveries (7), proving that he’s more than just an attack-minded winger.
Irven Ávila picked up 26 minutes off the bench as Monarcas pushed for a winner. He nearly found it with his first touch of the game, too.
Ávila also could’ve drawn a penalty for a handball on Édgar Méndez a few moments later, although it would’ve been very harsh.
Like clockwork, Cruz Azul ended up scoring twice. Shortly thereafter, Ávila had another brilliant chance.
On one hand, Ávila was clearly involved in the attack, but it stings when a striker wastes those opportunities. However, Roberto Hernández is a very patient coach, so perhaps he sees Ávila as an impact substitute.
With Jefferson Farfán flying 18 hours from Lima to Moscow, he was rested for the first half of Lokomotiv Moscow’s 2-1 loss to FC Ural.
As soon as he stepped onto the pitch, Lokomotiv’s attack was transformed. The veteran forward had freedom to drift across the frontline, but most of his positive sequences were created on the right side.
With these 45 minutes under his belt, it’s likely that Farfán will start midweek when Lokomotiv hosts Galatasaray in the Champions League. As we’ve stated on numerous occasions, la Foquita should be a false nine, but Yuri Semin clearly thinks otherwise.
Surprisingly, Christian Ramos has made back-to-back appearances for Al-Nassr. That’s the first time this has occurred since Ramos joined the Saudi Arabian club in the summer.
Ramos logged around 13 minutes as Al-Nassr edged Al-Shabab 1-0 to keep pace with league leaders Al-Hilal.
Advíncula’s form has been patchy at best since Oct. 21, and while he was sent off late in Rayo Vallecano’s loss to Valencia, the right-back was stellar in the previous 86 minutes.
The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Advíncula’s general play was quite solid. He won around half of duels and had a couple of fantastic chances to score as well.
Advíncula’s overall involvement in the final third was limited, but for good reason. Valencia was usually on the front-foot, so the Peruvian was forced to track back often and stay in the defensive third.
The biggest concern after the Ecuador game was Advíncula’s defending. While he was sent off for a couple of late tackles, his positioning was significantly stronger on Saturday.
Let’s hope for more of the same from Lucho.
Upon returning from Arequipa, Club León handed Pedro Aquino around 15 minutes in their Clausura finale.
Since León missed out on the Liguilla, Aquino will be inactive until January.
André Carrillo was on RPP’s Fútbol Como Cancha on Monday afternoon. As expected, he was asked about the quality of play in Saudi Arabia, claiming that it is more competitive than Peru.
— Fútbol Como Cancha (@FCC_ok) November 26, 2018
Here’s the problem: Carrillo is one of the most talented players in this player pool, so much so that he moved to Europe as a 19-year-old from Alianza Lima. No sane Peruvian fan would claim that the Descentralizado is superior to the Saudi Arabian league. It’s the fact that a player of Carrillo’s calibre is in the Middle East in the first place.
There weren’t any glaring issues in September or October, but now that Carrillo has earned a run of matches with Al-Hilal, he’s settled into a comfort zone.
Watch these sequences and see if there are any similarities from the 2-0 loss to Ecuador.
Carrillo can get away with this in Saudi Arabia. But when it comes time to face quality opposition with Peru, it hinders the attack.
For now, Peruvians just have to hope that Carrillo figures this out, moves clubs at the end of the season or another right winger (Andy Polo?) takes his spot for the time being.
Presented without comment…
That’s Cristian Benavente’s sixth goal in 16 starts for Sporting Charleroi. That strike eventually led to a 4-2 win over Lokeren as the club’s surge up the table continued.
However, that wasn’t Benavente’s only highlight of the night.
Benavente was 3-for-3 on his dribbling attempts in the match. The final act was a cheeky – but lovely – piece of skill.
Like Edison Flores for Monarcas Morelia, Benavente contributed off the ball as well. He had two interceptions, three ball recoveries and won each of his six defensive duels. Talk about productive.
Before Luis Abram joined Peru camp, Vélez Sarsfield coach Gabriel Heinze was not pleased that the FPF called Abram right before Vélez’s 0-0 draw with San Lorenzo on Nov. 12. Peru was set to play on the Thursday (Nov. 15), so the FPF wanted the defender in camp as early as possible.
It’s understandable because these were friendlies and it’s a crucial league match. Plus, considering how vital Abram has become for Heinze, it’s easy to see why he was upset.
Anyways, Abram returned to the pitch for Vélez as they shut down Unión 2-0 on Sunday evening. The Peruvian centre-back was flawless yet again.
Abram’s quality distribution was on full display over the weekend, completing 42 of his 51 passes. Most encouraging of all was how many of those attempts were forward passes.
Defensively, Abram won every single aerial duel and cleaned up any potential messes almost immediately. The quickness in which he reads the play is quite impressive for a 22-year-old.
It goes to show just how vital Heinze, an ex-Argentina international, has been in Abram’s development.