In the Ricardo Gareca era, ‘Cuevita’ was decisive. He was one of the most influential players in the last two Qualifiers (Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022) having scored a total of 9 goals and giving 7 assists. Also, every time they scored or assisted in both qualifying processes, Peru almost always won, only drawing 2 times. The support that the ‘Tiger’ gave him also helped the national midfielder show his good level.
Today the Argentine strategist is no longer here. Juan Reynoso has arrived to lead the technical command. But the ‘Chess player’ knows well everything that Cueva can contribute to the Inca team. For something, the attacking midfielder is the tenth best scorer in the history of the rojiblanca with 17 goals.
Not only that. With the two recent friendlies, he has registered 96 games with the bicolor, becoming the ninth footballer with the most matches played with the Peruvian jacket in the entire history of national football. He is only surpassed by Juan Jayo, Jorge Soto, Jefferson Farfán, Héctor Chumpitaz, Paolo Guerrero, Luis Advíncula, Yoshimar Yotún and Roberto Palacios.
His experience and ability, then, can contribute to Reynoso’s objective of getting the Peruvian team to qualify again for a World Cup: Canada, the United States and Mexico 2026. Cueva has shown that he can be, once again, a key player in the face of to the next World Cup. He showed it in the last matches against Paraguay and Bolivia
|christian cave||minutes played||Goal||Incidence|
|Mexico||75′||0||He was the owner|
|The Savior||twenty’||1||Alternate. He entered second half.|
|Paraguayan||Four. Five’||0||Alternate. He entered second half.|
|bolivian||60′||0||He was starter and captain.|
His recent performances
Against the Guarani, at the Estadio Monumental de Ate, the midfielder came on in the 46th minute to replace the rookie José Rivera and changed the face of the team. The national squad improved in the complement, there was more intensity in the attack and Cueva shone. In fact, it was after he entered that Alex Valera scored the winning goal after a corner.
Before Bolivia he assumed a more important role. Pedro Gallese was not going to play, so the captain’s band fell, for the first time in history, to the midfielder. He became the leader of the eleven starters and also the organizer of the team. Reynoso sent him down the left flank -leaving Piero Quispe his usual post- and knew how to deal with the pressure and onslaught of the Bolivians.
“Things are earned, not given and Christian has earned it”declared the bicolor coach after the victory over Bolivia in reference to the captaincy of ‘Cuevita’. “If we had done a survey, everyone would have told me that he is the captain”, he added.
What was also noted in the match against the ‘Green’ were the associations that Cueva can make in this new squad that seeks to compose the ‘Cabezón’. One of them is with Quispe, who fulfilled his dream of debuting with the national team and playing alongside ‘Aladino’.
Another association that was seen was with Percy Liza. In fact, it was Liza who gave Cueva the ball on the goal play. Then, the midfielder faced the Bolivian defense and gave a masterful cross pass to Luis Iberico, who was in charge of scoring the first goal of the match. Cueva showed that he is irreplaceable. He wants to be transcendental again in this new process towards the 2026 World Cup.
In the moments that Cueva was on the field, the team had another facet, a more offensive one. There is no doubt that Reynoso will need him in the following Qualifiers. If he takes him out or can’t count on him for a certain reason, who could take his place? At least in the 4 friendlies played in the ‘Chess player’ era, there is no player who has shown himself to be able to contribute everything Cueva can contribute to the national team.
Could it work without Gareca’s ‘pampering’, ‘protection’ or ‘conceit’? Reynoso’s personality is very different from that of the Argentine, surely he will defend his players, but it is unlikely that the close relationship that occurred between ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Tiger’ will be generated. However, Cueva has responded to the demands of the current coach and in the last two games he has connected with what the ‘Cabezón’ seeks to propose, being one of the most prominent.
“I am happy with how the game went, for the confidence that each player has, for the coach, for everyone in general. A few days ago I was talking about Piero Quispe, everyone knows his quality, as well as that of all the boys. So they are very confident.”were Cueva’s first words as captain after the duel with the ‘Green’, which took place at the Monumental de la UNSA, in Arequipa.
He also said that the responsibility of using the tape “perhaps (is) older”. But, he added, “I already have a responsibility from the first day I decided to be a professional footballer. Now more representing the selection. I’m going to prepare a lot more. Each player has a unique confidence because that is what the ‘teacher’ transmits. Leaving with these two victories leaves us very happy”.
Peru closes the year with a great victory, three in a row in the Reynoso era, and the strategist is already evaluating who will be chosen for the next elimination process. It is practically a fact that Christian Cueva will be one of them.
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