Name: Paolo Guerrero
World Cup Influence: 6/10
Peru are competing in their 5th World Cup Finals, having not qualified for the last 36 years. Peru finished 5th in their World Cup Qualifying group, which meant that they qualified for the OFC-CONMEBOL playoff against New Zealand. After a 0-0 first leg draw, they beat New Zealand 2-0 in the second leg to seal qualification to the World Cup. Their honours list isn’t huge, as they have won only 2 previous Copa America titles. They are however ranked 11th in the FIFA World Rankings, so they possess the quality to challenge for the trophy.
Performance of Player in Qualification:
Guerrero made 17 appearances for Peru during the qualifying campaign, and scored 5 goals. Unfortunately though his performances were overshadowed by the fact that in November 2017, it was revealed that he had failed a doping test for a so-called “social drug”. This got him a 30 day ban which meant he missed the play off against New Zealand. It later came out in December that he had tested positive for Benzolecgonine, which is a metabolite of cocaine, and was banned by FIFA from all footballing activities for a year, meaning he would miss the World Cup. This was initially reduced to six months on appeal, making him eligible again, before the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld an appeal from the anti doping agency to reinstate the original ban and even extend it to 14 months, ruling him out again. Whilst it was acknowledged that he hadn’t purposely set out to enhance his performance, the ban took into account that he was at fault for ingesting the banned substance.
Fortunately for Guerrero, a letter signed by Hugo Lloris, Mile Jedinak and Simon Kjaer, the respective captains of France, Australia and Denmark, Peru’s World Cup group opponents, showing support for Guerrero and for him to play in the finals, was submitted and the Supreme Court of Switzerland agreed to temporarily relax the ban to allow him to play in the World Cup finals. Taking into account that at 34, it will likely be his final chance to play in a World Cup.
Guerrero is a natural goalscorer, having scored 134 goals in 346 league appearance for clubs like Bayern Munich, Corinthians and now Flamengo. He has also scored 34 goals in 88 appearances for Peru, making him Peru’s top goalscorer. He has won two Bundesliga titles, two German cups, as well as two regional Brazilian titles, and a Club World Cup.
He can play as either a target man, holding up the play to bring others into the attacking phase, or as a poacher who hangs in the final third and looks for opportunities to snatch a goal. His strength makes him a handful for defenders, and he is adept at opening up defences and looking for a pass rather than shooting should his team mate be in a better position. Whilst he is not regarded as “natural athlete”, his technical ability more than makes up for this.
Why he’s one to watch:
With all the media attention surrounding Guerrero and his battle to be involved in the World Cup, all eyes will be on him to see what impact he can have for Peru. As the nations top goalscorer, the majority of their play may well go through him. He’s a good team player, and so should have no problem linking the play and using his experience to benefit the rest of the team.
Video of Player/compilation:
Football Manager Stats:
As you can see, Guerrero is a player of immense ability, with excellent attacking attributes. His first touch is magnificent, and whilst he may be an older player, he possesses great intelligence on the pitch, with his off the ball work standing out as a particular highlight. With all the experience he has, he will no doubt prove to be a valuable asset to Peru this summer.
This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018
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