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2018 World Cup team preview: Peru

Haiti v Peru: Group B - Copa America Centenario

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 04: Paolo Guerrero #9 of Peru in action against Haiti during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group B match at CenturyLink Field on June 4, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Getting to know Peru: Ranked higher than England, Italy, Mexico, and Croatia, the world’s No. 11 ranked team via FIFA’s metric has had a wild ride to Russia even after qualifying through CONMEBOL, as due to the saga of its captain -- more on that later -- Peru’s stayed in the news.

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This is Peru’s first World Cup since 1982, and just its fifth time in the tournament. Peru has finished third in two of the last three Copa America tournaments.

For more history on Peru, click here.

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What group are they in? C

Game schedule – Group C – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Saturday, June 16: Peru v Denmark, Saransk Noon ET
Thursday, June 21: France v Peru, Ekaterinburg 11 a.m. ET
Tuesday, June 26: Australia v Peru, Sochi 10 a.m. ET

Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full
—– Gallese —–

— Advincula — Santamaria — Ramos — Trauco

—- Tapio —- Yotun —-

—- Carrillo —- Cueva —- Flores —-

—- Guerrero —-

Star player: Paolo Guerrero – There was no international rust for the captain after his suspension for doping was put on hold, as Guerrero scored a pair of goals against Saudi Arabia. Guerrero tested positive for cocaine, something he claimed came from tainted tea, and even saw his suspension protested by captains of the other nations in his World Cup group. The 34-year-old former Bayern Munich and Hamburg striker plays in Brazil, and has 34 goals in his 14-year international career (87 caps).

Manager: Ricardo Gareca – The well-traveled 60-year-old is in his first international club, but far from his first steps as a manager. He’s had the most success with Velez Sarsfield in his native Argentina.

Secret weapon: Christian Cueva -- The attacking midfielder for Sao Paolo scored four times in qualifying, including an equalizer agains Argentina.

Prediction: Anything could happen in this group, but we think Peru sneaks out with a win over Australia and a draw with Denmark.

Follow @NicholasMendola