Persistent Peru can spring a surprise in summer’s Copa America
Peru have named their provisional 30-man squad ahead of this summer’s Copa America, which will be held in Chile, and La Blanquirroja will be hopeful of enjoying another successful campaign, as they hold an impressive tournament record in recent years.
Head coach Ricardo Gareca has several high-profile names included in his initial squad, with 23 of those players set to return to South American soil for the prestigious international competition.
The Peruvians are one of the outsiders to emerge victorious this summer, being a 33/1 chance with Coral, but such a massive price is surprisingly unflattering, with the nation having rallied to third place in the previous tournament in 2011.
Peru’s supreme run also includes a quarter-final appearance in each of the last six Copa America tournaments, spanning back to 1997, though this year they face a tough task, having been drawn in Group C against last summer’s World Cup hosts and tournament second-favourites Brazil (10/3).
Along with facing the five-time World Cup winners, last year’s quarter-finalists Colombia will provide a stern challenge, along with group underdogs Venezuela who complete the line-up.
The country’s top-flight league, the Peruvian Primera Division, is well represented within the named squad, with Cesar Vallejo having five members and Sporting Cristal with four. As well as these home-based players, though, there are several stars who feature in Europe.
Bayern Munich’s veteran marksman Claudio Pizarro, formerly of Chelsea, is arguably the highest profile name within the squad, with the forward having made over 200 outings for the German giants during two stints, but has netted just a single goal this season in his second spell.
Cristian Berravente is one of the youngest members of the squad, and is a promising attacking midfielder, with the Real Madrid youth product now plying his trade under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid Castilla.
Juan Manuel Vargas has enjoyed a successful run in the Serie A and Europa League with Fiorentina this term, while Bundesliga duo Jefferson Farfan and Carlos Zambrano are both regular starters for Schalke and Frankfurt respectively in Germany’s top tier.
Burnley fans may recognise goalkeeper Diego Penny, with the current Sporting Cristal stopper having had a two-year spell at Turf Moor, but was limited to only two league appearances. Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon forward Andre Carrillo will provide plenty of threat from a wide or central position this summer.
Preliminary Peru squad for 2015 Copa America:
Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Juan Aurich), Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal), Salomon Libman (Cesar Vallejo).
Defenders: Carlos Zambrano (Eintracht Frankfurt), Pedro Requena (Cesar Vallejo), Hansell Riojas (Cesar Vallejo), Yoshimar Yotun (Malmo), Jair Cespedes (Juan Aurich), Alexander Callens (Real Sociedad B), Gustavo Dulanto (Universitario de Deportes), Christian Ramos (Juan Aurich), Luis Advincula (Vitoria Setubal).
Midfielders: Josepmir Ballon (Sporting Cristal), Cristian Benavente (Real Madrid Castilla), Paolo Hurtado (Pacos de Ferreira), Carlos Lobaton (Sporting Cristal), Edwin Retamoso (Real Garcilaso), Rinaldo Cruzado (Cesar Vallejo), Christian Cueva (Alianza Lima), Joel Sanchez (San Martin), Carlos Ascues (Melgar), Paulo Albarracin (Alianza Lima), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina).
Forwards: Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich), Andre Carrillo (Sporting Lisbon), Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04), Yordy Reyna (RB Leipzig), Paolo Guerrero (Corinthians), Irven Avila (Sporting Cristal), Daniel Chavez (Cesar Vallejo).