2018 FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA WC: Peru vs Denmark all you need to know about these two teams

XtraTime web desk: Peru will begin their FIFA World Cup 2018 campaign vs Denmark in Group C and both sides will be eager to take part in the first match with a decent performance. Both sides have appeared in the previous World Cups without ever actually showing any great results. In fact, Peru is returning to the World Cup football for the first time since 1986. Denmark, on their part, will also be returning to World Cup football after having failed to qualify for the 2014 edition in South Africa.

Peru:

The buildup was dominated by whether Paolo Guerrero would be able to play in Russia and now he is going hopes have been raised back home.

Strength:

Ricardo Gareca has made Peru go back to their roots and they now play with a blend of determination, discipline, and creativity. Edison Flores is a wonderful attacking midfielder.

Weakness:

Guerrerro has not played since November and, no matter how important he is to the rest of the team, he will lack match practice when he steps on the pitch in Russia.

Goalkeeper:

Pedro Gallese: El Pulpo/“The Octopus” started his World Cup journey in 2007 at the U17 tournament in South Korea - now he’s senior first-choice No1. He missed games last summer due to a broken finger, but returned a month later, hand still inflamed, to keep a clean sheet against Argentina in La Bombonera, sparking octopus/Superman/saint-based memes online. In the build-up to this summer he set out his side’s task: “It’s been 36 years waiting. It won’t be simple, but the plan is to keep on making history, to get to the next round. After that, who knows what can happen?”

Most experienced player:

Alberto Rodríguez: Belongs to the generation of 1984, along with Jefferson Farfán and Paolo Guerrero. For many, he’s the best Peruvian defender of the last twenty years. A series of injuries held back his club career in Portugal with Braga, Sporting, and Rio Ave, but he has been a rock for Peru, and brings valuable experience of facing forwards such as Luis Suárez, Radamel Falcao and Gonzalo Higuaín. He’s a man of few words, known to friends as El Mudo/”The Mute”, but says “I’m just reserved, not mute”. He also told the press Peru owes their progress to God. “I thank and give glory to God for this opportunity. We believed He could aid us, and he did.”

Creative Force:

Cristian Cueva: Known as Aladdin for his magic touch. He’s also seen by many as Ricardo Gareca’s son in the side - a loyal, ever-present, trusted attacking outlet who has played more minutes under this coach than any other player. The feeling is mutual, too - Cueva saying last year: “Gareca must stay until 2050." In the build-up, Cueva spoke of the importance of Paolo Guerrero - “he’s our Suárez, Kane, Lewandowski”, and about what Gareca has brought to the squad: “Gareca’s winning mentality has infected us: he has made us believe. We fight, we concentrate, we work.”

Young Talent:

Renato Tapia: Despite his young age, Tapia is well established: a regular under Ricardo Gareca, and widely known as Peru’s future captain. He’s not shy: he runs the national side’s WhatsApp group, and Gareca says: “He’s a lad who speaks up and even the older players listen.” He’s been in Europe since joining Eredivisie side Twente in 2013 - having previously been rejected, he says, by Liverpool for being too short - and spent the World Cup build-up trying to complete his 2018 Panini album. He appealed to his Instagram followers in April to help him find the final 30 stickers in return for a signed Peru shirt, listing the numbers he still needed to collect. “I have no-one in Rotterdam to swap with, so I appeal to the Peruvian people for help.”

Main Goalscorer:

Paolo Guerrero: The name that dominated Peru’s Russia 2018 build-up. Captain, record scorer, the fans’ idol - but someone who nearly didn’t make the cut. The 34-year-old was given a 12-month doping ban last year after testing positive for cocaine, which he said was consumed by mistake in contaminated tea. The ban was halved on appeal - but then the World Anti Doping Agency appealed, seeking an extension. As a result, his World Cup participation was in the balance until the end of May, when he was finally cleared to take part. In 2016, the biopic “Guerrero” had the biggest opening of any film in Peru, with half a million viewers in its first week alone - and before the World Cup he had a message for his public: “All the affection that comes my way from Peruvians is priceless, children write to me, pray for me - I cannot find the words to express my thanks. I will do everything I can to bring joy to Peru.”

Åge Hareide has taken over from Morten Olsen and plays a more direct football than his predecessor while setting up the team to get the best out of Christian Eriksen. The 12th ranked team is all set for today's match.

Denmark:

Strengths: Eriksen is one of the best playmakers in Europe and there is pace on the left side with Celta Vigo's Pione Sisto.

Weaknesses: Hareide's first-choice defensive midfielder, William Kvist, has lost his place at his club, FC Copenhagen, and may not start in Russia, potentially leaving a gap for opponents to exploit.

Goalkeeper:

Kasper Schmeichel: The Danish No1 doesn’t like being compared to his father. “I’m married with two kids, yet some people still just see me as Peter’s son,” he said a few years back. He has lived in England for 23 years now but when there was interest from the English FA about a potential call-up he dismissed it. “I was born in Denmark, I am Danish and I’ve felt Danish my whole life. It would have been strange, just like asking an Englishman to represent another country.” Stine, his wife, said in an interview that meeting a 17-year-old Kasper set off “fireworks” but that life as footballer’s wife isn’t as glamorous as people think. “We’re still at home in our dungarees, picking up Lego from the floor and making packed lunches,” she told Alt last year. Schmeichel has great reflexes, but arguably his biggest asset is his ability to start quick counter-attacks with his feet.

Most experienced player:

Christian Eriksen: In 2010 Eriksen was the youngest player at the World Cup. Now, in 2018, he should be one of the best. In Denmark, the debate is ongoing about whether he might actually be as good as the country’s all-time greatest player, Michael Laudrup. With 11 goals in the qualifiers, Eriksen showed exactly how invaluable he is to the side, with many tactics built around him His anticipation, technique and lethal shot from inside and outside the box could take Denmark a long way in Russia. Still only 26, he remains on course to beat Peter Schmeichel’s record of 129 caps for Denmark. Attempting to sum up Eriksen’s vision and reading of the game, Age Hareide said recently: “Flies have eyes that can see all the way around the head. So does Christian Eriksen".

Creative Force:

Jannik Vestergaard: Superbly two-footed, Vestergaard moved to Hoffenheim as a 17-year-old and has never looked back. It perhaps helped that he has a German mother, but many were still surprised by how quickly he settled. He made his Bundesliga debut aged 18 and has amassed more than 200 top-flight games in Germany having represented Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen and now Borussia Mönchengladbach. “One of the things that made my choose Hoffenheim was some of the rules they have,” he told Tipsbladet in 2011. “One of them is that you can’t arrive at the training ground in a sports car. I can imagine they did that because it sends out the wrong signals, that there’s no humility in doing that, so the players with Ferraris and Lamborghinis have to leave them at home.” One thing he didn’t like, however, was the shirt. “Lotto had made them and the material was terrible. The shorts were way too short and the shirt was divided into two colors.”

Young Talent:

Kasper Dolberg: The striker, who can also operate on the wing, had his best spell for the national team between 2013 and 2016 when Denmark was lacking a regular scorer and he was doing wonders at Toulouse. These days, despite being only 26 and with a good season behind him at Bordeaux, he’ll be used mainly from the bench. He offers Denmark options, though, and is going to Russia with high hopes. “I want to win the World Cup,” he told Sky Sports while playing for Middlesbrough. “What does ‘realistic’ mean in life really? The only thing that is realistic is what you put in your head. And then you have to work towards realising it. That’s how I see it.”

 

Main Goalscorer:

Michael Krohn-Dehli: Krohn-Dehli, who has been at Deportivo since January, made his international debut back in 2006 - a Euro 2008 qualifier against Liechtenstein. He’s definitely an experienced operator in midfield, and wise head to have in the squad, though he’s likely to be a backup option for Age Hareide in Russia, if everyone else stays fit. “He could probably cover for Christian Eriksen if something happens to him," says Hareide. ”Michael has a lot of experience, he’s a good ball player and he can play all three positions in the middle. I've always liked him.” He fought his way back from a horrible knee injury sustained in 2016.

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