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By Sam Burge

Team: Peru

Nickname: La Blanquirroja (The White and Red)

World ranking: 11

World Cup appearances: 4 (Quarter-finals in 1970 and 1978; last appearance was 1982)

Qualifying: Came fifth in the South American qualifying sending them to an inter-confederation play-off against the Oceania winners, New Zealand. Peru drew the away leg 0-0 and won 2-0 at home to qualify for Russia.

Group: C – which includes France, Denmark and Australia.

Coach: Ricardo Gareca
The Argentinian has been in charge since 2015 and is being hailed for returning the Peruvians to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

Captain: Paolo Guerrero
The 34-year-old was in danger of missing Russia after a ban for a positive cocaine test. Guerrero gained support from opposing Group C captains in a great show of sportsmanship and the ban has been suspended by a Swiss supreme court, leaving Guerrero free to play. The striker has amassed 88 caps and is the country’s all-time leading goal scorer with 34 goals.

Player to watch: Jefferson Farfan
The 33-year-old is currently playing for Lokomotiv Moscow and will feel at home in Russia. The forward/winger has also had stints at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and German club Shalke 04. Farfan will be Peru’s greatest attacking threat. He is primarily known for his distribution and creativity where he can find and play passes others can’t. His speed and technical ability will also allow him to beat defenders and hit the back of the net himself.

NowUC predictor: Group stage
Underestimate the Peruvians at your own peril. After 36 years in the wilderness they have finally reached the promised land and will be looking to make the most of it. However with a formidable French outfit in Group C there is probably only one spot on offer for the other three teams. It’s hard to see Peru progressing from the group despite their FIFA ranking of 11. A lack of World Cup experience and superstar quality will see the South Americans flying home early.

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