The charge against Anderson Santamaria can be explained by three consecutive errors in the last three games. His reckless back style collides with the fans' preaching when they are nervous: "let him blow it, man", they say in front of the TV. But Santamaría does not blow it up because Ricardo Gareca's Peruvian national team -in good faith because of Gareca himself- has as its first commandment a neat exit before the divided ball.

There have been more good than bad in his 6 year cycle, but both with Denmark and France in the 2018 world cup we got goals when we tried to come out like that. Whether the style is disliked is certainly an issue beyond Santamaria.

The problem, I continue, is not the idea of coming out playing but the lack of criteria to do so. First of all, the back, to expose the ball in areas where it is better to be punctual and secondly, and mainly, Gareca himself by betting the last few days on two playmaking backs (Santamaria and his partner Alexander Callens), when his best Peru always had a less technical central defender and another one more.

Two defenders of the Santamaría/Callens profile increase unnecessary risk at the back. Not even Pep's Barça had two like that. They were Carles Puyol -a tough one- and Gerard Piqué -a subtle one-. Today's Peru started nervously. Or even more nervous than before. At the World Cup it went with a more positional Christian Ramos and a more luxurious 'Mudo' Alberto Rodriguez. And runner-up in Copa America 2019 was with Carlos Zambrano and Luis Abram (two very concrete backs). The coach should not forget it.

Part of Gareca's undisputed success has been to interpret and support the technical conditions of the Peruvian player. When he said he believed in home-grown talent, he was referring to detecting, promoting and encouraging a daring type of play, highly associated with the ball on the ground and deceiving the opponent. But to believe in "Peruvian soccer" is not to confuse Santamaría with Meléndez and to assume that the great Julio -whom I saw a lot in the 60s/70s- was a madman who wanted to be Pelé in every maneuver. The doses of "playing out" are the ones that should be moderated now, because making "chocolate" all the time and from every player is not principled, but irresponsible.

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