Featured Image: Líbero
2018 is winding down, yet a few Peruvians abroad are heating up in the final weeks of the calendar year.
Jefferson Farfán and Cristian Benavente are still in sensational form. Both players added to their respective goal tallies over the weekend and continue to dominate for their clubs.
With all of this in mind, here is your in-depth roundup on 10 different Peruvians abroad.
Lokomotiv Moscow enters their final match of 2018 – away at Schalke in the Champions League – in good spirits. They toppled Orenburg 2-1, with Farfán scoring twice in five minutes in the second half to salvage the win.
It’s been somewhat under the radar, but Farfán has now scored four goals in his last seven appearances since returning from injury. He also struck for Peru against Costa Rica last month.
Even though he’s started as a right winger, Farfán is scoring by executing runs through the centre of the penalty area. Both of his goals against Orenburg were off set pieces, although if someone just stumbled across these clips, they’d assume Farfán was the No. 9.
When examining Farfán’s heat maps and where he received passes, it reads like a striker.
The Peruvian veteran is more of a support striker, which is a positive for the team. Farfán excelled up front last season and led Lokomotiv to the title in that role, so the more central he is, the better.
A late penalty from Cristian Benavente secured a 1-1 draw with Anderlecht and kept Sporting Charleroi’s unbeaten run intact. They haven’t lost in four straight league matches.
Benavente is now on eight goals for the season in just 18 games. He had nine across 36 league appearances last season, which shows off Benavente’s consistency in this current campaign.
However, there might be concerns that he might come back down to earth.
Excluding penalties, Benavente has seven goals. His non-penalty expected goals (NPxG) haul stands at 4.52. This states that Benavente is outperforming his current output, so there could be a regression coming. A 0.25 NPxG per 90 minutes is also on the lower end of the scale for an attacking midfielder in most of Europe’s top five leagues.
That doesn’t mean he’s not a talented player. Benavente is a technically gifted facilitator, and he proved that against one of the top clubs in Belgium.
Benavente completed four of his six dribbles versus Anderlecht and contributed defensively as well. He had four interceptions and recovered possession five times, which will surely please Ricardo Gareca, who loves attackers who are willing to track back.
Luis Advíncula’s lacklustre performances with Peru worried some fans, and that’s because he was far too passive defensively.
The opposite was true versus Real Betis on Sunday. Rayo Vallecano lost 2-0, yet Advíncula shined in his own half of the pitch. He was not beaten on the dribble – which was an issue versus Ecuador – and was responsible with his positioning.
Was there still the odd turnover or misjudged tackle? Sure, but it didn’t lead to a quality scoring chance for Betis. Defenders are allowed to make mistakes, as long as it isn’t close to their own goal.
Advíncula logged four interceptions and an astounding 14 ball recoveries. Some of these were incredibly timed, too.
Long may it continue.
For those who missed Christian Cueva’s first goal for Krasnodar in midweek:
Christian Cueva’s first goal for Krasnodar: 🔥🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/sPxnndXV1a
— The Peruvian Waltz (@PeruWaltz) December 5, 2018
Cueva ended up starting a season-high fourth straight match for Krasnodar on Sunday in a 1-1 draw with FC Ufa. The Peruvian playmaker started as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 system, a rarity in his debut campaign overseas, and logged 68 minutes.
This was a pretty productive outing for Cueva. He actually completed more forward passes near Ufa’s penalty area and should’ve scored off this attempt as well.
Yes, Cueva made some lateral passes, but some of these through balls were jaw-dropping.
This is what Cueva produced in 68 minutes of work. I’ll take that, especially after a mid-week game.
There was a top-of-the-table clash in Saudi Arabia involving a pair of Peruvians. André Carrillo (Al-Hilal) and Christian Ramos (Al-Nassr) battled to a 2-2 draw, but Carrillo was sent off in second-half stoppage time.
The sending off was actually quite needless. Carrillo was being held back, but lashed out and rightly saw red for this elbow.
As for the match itself, Carrillo was quality, but this isn’t new. He’s far too good for Saudi Arabia and when he makes poor decisions on the ball, he isn’t punished.
Case in point: His assist for Bafetimbi Gomis’ opener. He makes the wrong decision to cut to his left when receiving the ball, dribbles into No Man’s Land, but still picks out Gomis.
On the bright side, Carrillo recognized overlapping runs from right-back Mohammed Al-Burayk, so that’s a win.
Unfortunately for Carrillo, he is suspended for the midweek game against Ohod. He’ll be eligible to play next weekend versus Al-Hazm, though.
The opening 15 minutes were a disaster for Christian Ramos. He was left in the dust by Bafetimbi Gomis, who struck twice for Al-Hilal.
It was strange seeing Ramos out of position this often. He didn’t even bother to track this run into the box, for example. He’s just standing at the back post waiting for the ball.
Even more concerning was Ramos’ body positioning. When facing an onrushing forward in the open field, a defender is supposed to jockey. The Peruvian centre-back was off balance when squaring up Gomis.
Yes, Ramos was playing on the left and he is not as comfortable on that side compared to the right. Regardless, a defender of his experience should know how to position himself against a dangerous attacker like Gomis.
Andy Polo represented Peru in MLS Cup, but sadly, the Portland Timbers came up short. They lost 2-0 to Atlanta United on Saturday evening as the second-year franchise lifted the title in front of their home fans.
Because Portland spent the majority of the first half trying to bunker down and frustrate Atlanta, Polo was little more than an auxiliary wingback. His received passes back up that statement.
As for Polo’s future, the Peruvian winger is on loan from Monarcas Morelia. He told SBI Soccer that he “would like to stay” but would have to work it out with his agent in the off-season.
For the sake of Polo’s development, let’s hope he remains in Portland for 2019.
Another week, another game with Sergio Peña as the No. 10 for Tondela. Unfortunately for Peña, his side had to defend for dear life against Braga for the majority of the 90 minutes. That was reflected in the Peruvian’s heat map.
But when Peña meandered into the final third, he made the most of it.
When Peña is in that creative attack-minded role, he thrives. It’s just a shame that he has to compete with Christian Cueva and Cristian Benavente.