Cueva lauds Gareca, Guerrero

Christian Cueva has credited Peru coach Ricardo Gareca with transforming him into a player opponents have come to fear. The tricky playmaker scored and starred in La Blanquirroja’s emphatic 4-1 win in Paraguay last Thursday, and Rodrigo Caio has warned his Brazil companions about his Sao Paulo team-mate ahead of the sides’ clash in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying.

Cueva made his Peru debut in 2011, but hadn’t managed to establish himself or net an international goal until Gareca assumed their reins in 2015. Thereafter, the 24-year-old has posted six goals and became one of Los Incas' most influential players.

“I’ve always dreamt up being a national team player, having people talk about me because of my success,” said Cueva. “It’s true that the gaffer called me up at a time when I needed someone, besides my family, and he came at the right time.

“God put him here in my life and thanks to this, I’ve been able to do things better. He’s taught me not only the footballing aspect, but to also value the human aspect, which is the most important.

“With Gareca I may have disagreements, because sometimes we don’t think in the same way – and we don’t have to – but there’s the confidence there to debate things in a nice manner.”

Cueva, who broke the deadlock for Sao Paulo in a 4-0 thrashing of fierce rivals Corinthains in their last outing, is one of two Brazil-based players in the Peru squad. The other, Flamengo striker Paolo Guerrero, is someone he really looks up to.

“Paolo, for his experience and for what he has already achieved, is a real example,” Cueva said of Peru’s captain and record all-time marksman. “I am not on his level, but I try to contribute my grain of sand. In this career nobody stops learning.”

Brazil are first in the South American standings, seven points clear of fifth-placed Chile. Peru are eighth, but victory in Lima on Tuesday evening could see them climb as high as fourth.

Peru won the teams’ last meeting 1-0 in Foxborough, Massachusetts to eliminate Brazil from the Copa America Centenario 2016.