Will Peru Do To World Cup 2018 What Leicester Did To The EPL In 2016?

An impeached president, a doping problem and an underdog story? Peru would have the craziest year if they win the World Cup and they just might have what it takes.

For the first time since 1982, 36 years later, Peru will be playing in the FIFA 2018 World Cup. But we all know that story and, frankly, defeating New Zealand isn’t that special. Sorry, Kiwis. What is more shocking than that is Peru’s latest streak of record-breaking success which, despite the country’s current political climate and doping national team captain, might earn them a decent spot in the World Cup. Or they could win it, why not? 

Here’s Peru’s World Cup qualifying goal against New Zealand by Jefferson Farfan: 

First of all, let’s touch base with the politics. On March 21, former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned on live television after facing an impeachment vote for the second time. The previous Wall Street tycoon was caught up in a continent-wide bribery scandal that affected other countries like Brazil. Martin Vizcarra was sworn in days later but why is this important to soccer, you ask? Because a nation’s politics is entirely vital to their sports teams’ morale — it either helps or weakens. 

In the 1980s, Brazil was riddled with political turmoil and a dictatorial regime but with the help of soccer legend Socrates and his heroics they managed to maintain the soccer team’s morale and integrity. In 2014’s FIFA World Cup, still in recovery of the Arab Spring’s aftermath, Algeria managed to reach the finals regardless of the country’s dodgy politics. 

The point is: When people depend on their nation’s sports teams after their morale had been damaged by politics, the results can be quite exciting and admirable. Something Peru can totally manage. 

There’s a catch, though. Peru’s national team captain Paolo Guerrero failed a doping test. The World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, found the 34-year-old tested positive for cocaine traces during a WC qualifier match against Argentina last October. The sugar-booger use resulted in a year ban but Guerrero appealed successfully and the ban was halved to 6 months — allowing the former Bayern Munich forward to play starting May. Guerrero replied to the testing results that he had used coco leaves in his tea hence the traces. Nice try there, buddy. 

Take a look at Guerrero’s awesome free-kick goal against Colombia. 

Guerrero, an essential player if Peru wants to do any good, needs to stay off the ’70s vibe and cool it off with the drugs. The Flamengo FC player has 32 goals total for Peru’s national team out of 86 appearances which, combined with the likes of Farfan and Luis Advincula, could prove lucrative during the World Cup. Farfan, midfielder for Lokomotiv Moscow, which is also the scariest soccer club name, is also a promising player. His performance against New Zealand if enhanced will be the backbone of Peru’s triumph come June and July. 

Advincula, a defender for Turkey’s Bursaspor who broke Gareth Bale’s speed record with an astonishing 36.15 kilometers per hour (22.46 mph), is a great addition to Peru’s team. The cheetah-fast defender, who tirelessly and singlehandedly stopped a Chivas attack that saved Lobos BUAP from an imminent goal, would mirror Guerrero’s striking as a reliable fullback for Peru’s defensive line. That way, a front-and-back security can alleviate any pressure on the team come play time in June. 

Check out his speed. 

Peru’s Argentinian coach Ricardo Gareca has quite the unusual eye for soccer, one that is defiant even as his picks aren’t all practical or even sane — but it seems to be working. After tying with Colombia and New Zealand (the first time) in October and November of 2017, the Peruvians have secured three consecutive wins against the Kiwis, Croatia and, a fan favorite thanks to the Viking chant, Iceland. Gareca also has eyes set on 39-year-old Claudio Pizarro, proving that this coach, with a feel good sports Disney movie in mind, doesn’t care about the conventional soccer mentality of “play the young and strong.”

Gareca does have a chance to prove his tactics as a method to madness and not just madness when Scotland visits Lima for a friendly on May 28. Come June though, Peru will have only two more friendlies with Saudi Arabia and Sweden before facing Denmark for its first World Cup match. 

Then, on June 21, Peru faces France. This is where we’ll see it, if Peru can play with the big boys and pull it together for a win then, along with the stars aligning in every universe, this mere hope in Peru might turn into conviction. 

Peru has a chance to make history and perhaps set itself in stone as soccer’s greatest underdog story since England winning in 1966. If Peru does win, not only will it be the first time for the country but possibly my first heart attack as well if this optimism thing turns out as fulfilling as people claim it to be. 

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