Featured Image: America TV
The latest Peru squad was announced on Friday and there was one notable omission from the list of 23 names.
Christian Cueva was left off the roster, which is both noteworthy and somewhat insignificant. However, some usual suspects are back in the mix after missing the October friendlies. It’s now imperative that they keep up their form and avoid injuries, which ruled them out last month.
Here is your weekly in-depth recap on 14 different Peruvians abroad.
You know a player is too good when he’s barely moving past second gear. It’s enhanced when he represents the best team in a league. That’s exactly the case with André Carrillo in Saudi Arabia these days.
Al-Hilal cruised past Al-Qadisiyah 2-0 on Friday evening, with Carrillo logging 68 minutes in the win. It was almost effortless for the right winger.
Just watch how easily he glides through midfield, unchallenged, without really trying.
The Al-Qadisiyah defence closed him down far more often after that slalom run, although it’s easy to see why Carrillo completed five of his seven dribbles.
One notable development that we’ve seen from Carrillo this season is his willingness to cut inside. Usually he stays closer to the touchline or crosses the ball. Perhaps due to the lower quality of the Saudi league compared to Portugal and England, Carrillo is actually occupying the central channels.
Carrillo is criticized for his lack of scoring. A winger with his close control, dribbling and pace shouldn’t have many problems racking up goals, so it’s nice to see him executing these moves.
This has been more common with Peru as well, so hopefully Carrillo maintains this pattern.
Back in October, Ricardo Gareca mentioned that Cristian Benavente could play on the left because he’d been shifted to that side with Charleroi.
Luckily for Gareca, Benavente has been deployed in a more central role in the past three games for Charleroi. However, he still drifts to the left wing on occasion. This means Benavente can be a like-for-like replacement for Christian Cueva in the friendlies against Ecuador and Costa Rica.
In Charleroi’s 2-1 defeat, Benavente thrived in this position. He covered a ton of ground and remained active in Zone 14, which should please Gareca.
It was also pleasing to see Benavente creating chances in that area as well. Sure, he only completed 70 per cent of his 46 passes, but he was proactive with his distribution. Not every attempt in the final third will come off. For obvious reasons (the defenders around the box), that is where most sequences are broken up.
Benavente also had a fierce strike from distance smack the post, a goal disallowed and completed every single dribble. Feast your eyes on this.
That control. That composure.
Benavente is arguably one of the most talented Peruvian players in this current pool. Hopefully he shows that off this month.
Edison Flores was only on the pitch for 16 minutes against Tigres, but he was incredible in that brief cameo.
Flores completed all 12 of his passes, set up two quality chances and brought control to the midfield. He’s still playing in the middle at Monarcas Morelia, which isn’t a total surprise. He’s been a makeshift midfielder for Peru in the past, although he seems to be thriving in that role in Mexico.
Let’s see if that sticks when Flores eventually locks down a spot in the starting lineup.
To no one’s surprise, Rayo Vallecano were incredibly conservative against Barcelona, although they nearly snatched a result against the champions of La Liga.
Barcelona managed to come from behind to defeat Rayo 3-2, with Luis Advíncula playing the full 90. However, because of Barca’s threat down that left side with Philippe Coutinho and Jordi Alba, Advíncula didn’t meander into the final third.
Instead, Advíncula was basically a right-sided centre-back in a 5-4-1 whenever Rayo did not have possession, although he began the game in his regular role. Once it became clear that Barcelona was going to torch the back line, that changed.
Considering the level of opposition and slight change in position, it was a decent outing for Advíncula, who continues to turn heads in La Liga.
After missing the last two months with ligament damage, Jefferson Farfán was back on the field for Lokomotiv Moscow. He’s clearly fully fit, too, because he was named to the latest Peru squad.
Back in his usual role as a false nine, it was evident that Farfán hadn’t played in weeks. He still had a couple of decent sequences, though.
Farfán has another two weeks to build up fitness before he joins up with his Peruvian teammates. Since he has to travel from Russia to Peru, he’ll likely be given a cap on his minutes.
Even though he remains off the grid, Jean-Pierre Rhyner is an option for Gareca.
He was outstanding, even in defeat, to Basel last week and was decent in another loss to Young Boys. However, there are some questions to be asked about his defensive work in recent games.
That can be forgiven since it’s a communication issue. Pushing up to press the player in possession is wise, but Rhyner should be aware that he’s leaving a massive gap in the middle of the defence. Luckily for him, the chance was wasted.
This next sequence, however, was poor. Rhyner (who frustratingly shakes his arms after the goal) has to track the forward in the box, especially when the forward on the ball only has one option for a pass.
This has been a poor campaign in general for Grasshoppers, who have leaked goals all season long. Rhyner is still 22 years old as well, so the upside is very high. He’s also far superior to Alexander Callens in terms of vision and composure on the ball. Playing in a reputable European league is an advantage, too.
However, these are issues that have to be worked out on the training ground. Those mishaps cannot be a regular occurrence.
Veracruz suffered another defeat, this time to Monterrey, who shut out los Tiburones Rojos 2-0.
Pedro Gallese had zero chance to stop either goal. The first was a golazo from Rodolfo Pizarro and the second was a one-on-one. Gallese had so much ground to cover, so he was completely helpless.
Credit Gallese for sticking out with Veracruz after the move to Boca Juniors collapsed, but for the sake of his own career and sanity, he needs to leave as soon as possible.
Raul Ruidíaz picked up where he left off: By scoring a crucial goal for the Seattle Sounders in a 2-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
He also flubbed a great chance about five minutes before the goal.
On average, Ruidíaz has scored one goal for every four shots in MLS. Guess what? He had four attempts in the match. Fans need to understand that it’s not possible to convert every chance.
For whatever reason, Peruvians crucify Ruidíaz for not scoring on all five of his shots and Christian Cueva for not burying a penalty, yet Paolo Guerrero is given a pass.
Anyways, as for Sunday’s match, Ruidíaz was quite invisible after scoring. The Sounders lost Cristian Roldan and Chad Marshall to injury, so they were happy to sit back and let the Timbers control the game. That led to a decline in touches for Ruidíaz.
If the Sounders want to advance, they need to ensure that Ruidíaz is more involved than that, otherwise they will be out at the first hurdle.
Andy Polo was deployed in a shut-down midfield role for the Portland Timbers in this game against the Sounders and surprisingly, he fulfilled his duties very nicely.
Polo had five ball recoveries, three tackles and built up some decent chances on the wing with right-back Zarek Valentin and Sebastián Blanco.
It’s not glamorous, but players need versatility. It’s nice to see Polo adding that tactical IQ to his arsenal.
Bizarrely, Alexander Callens’ form has fallen off a cliff since he was called up to the Peru squad in October. He’s rushing into tackles, roaming from his position and committing far more individual errors than ever before.
Callens started well against Atlanta United as well. Watch how he’s able to catch up to Josef Martinez and jockey the Golden Boot winner away from the box.
Then the match got away from Callens. He was losing his man on set pieces and pushing up when it wasn’t necessary, which was uncharacteristic of his previous appearances.
For NYCFC’s sake, this has to be a one-time lapse, because trailing 1-0 heading into Atlanta for the second leg of the conference semifinal, defensive mishaps have to be cut out.
For the third straight game, Christian Cueva checked into a match for Krasnodar as a second-half substitute. This time, though, Cueva was limited to just 12 minutes.
Unless Cueva doesn’t see an increase in Europa League action on Thursday, then his one-time absence from the Peru squad could become a regular trend in 2019.
Sergio Peña entered Tondela’s match against Feirense in the 62nd minute. Eight minutes later, he provided the winning assist.
I’ve repeatedly mentioned that Peña prefers to play higher up the pitch. Guess where was he situated in his 28 minutes?
Peña didn’t stop with that assist. He was hitting some gorgeous through balls in the final third in the final 15 minutes.
He also had a shot whistle just past the post.
As it stands, Peña doesn’t have a solidified role in a 4-2-3-1, but if Gareca needs to make an in-game tweak and add numbers to the midfield, the 23-year-old is a great option.
Make that two straight games (and another clean sheet) as a left-sided centre-back for Miguel Araujo.
Luckily for Talleres, the positional tweak hasn’t affected Araujo’s reading of the game.
For a player who is still adjusting to Argentinean football, and coming off an injury to boot, Araujo has been exceptional as a defender. Those are just two of the latest examples.
It’s worth noting that Araujo’s passing numbers declined compared to last week, although that might have to do with the caginess of the match. But the experiment as a left-sided centre-back is real, and that must intrigue Gareca.
After sustaining a minor injury in Copa MX action on Oct. 24, Pedro Aquino returned to the pitch over the weekend in León’s 0-0 draw with Atlas.
It was only around 10 minutes, but at least Aquino is fit, and just in time for national team duty.