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Who The Hell Is… Cristian Riveros?

Paraguay march on boldly through the World Cup knock-out rounds, with Spain next up for a place in the semi-finals, and Sunderland new boy Cristian Riveros has been crucial to this success.

The 27-year-old midfielder will be joining fellow Paraguayan international Paulo da Silva at the Stadium of Light next season; but who the hell, on this soul-corroding miserable shell of a planet, is Cristian Riveros?

Born in Saldivar, (16 October1982, for you fact fans), his football career was based exclusively in his home country – playing for the like of Sportivo San Lorenzo, Tacuary and Libertad – before he moved to Mexican side Cruz Azul in 2007.

It was with Libertad (2006-07) that Cristian really came to prominence, making 48 appearances, scoring eight times, and winning the Paraguayan League title twice during his swift spell. His Mexican move was an important development to his career and he soon established himself as an important midfield anchor. His three year stay at Cruz Azul has seen him notch up over 110 appearances and 17 goals.

His international pedigree is also mounting. With over 50 international caps, Riveros has become a vital backbone in the Paraguayan side. He was a mainstay during qualification for the World Cup and justifiably retained his starting place for the tournament proper. His international zenith has certainly come during this World Cup, helping Paraguay reach the quarter-finals for the first in their history and contributing a goal in the 2-0 victory over Slovakia (a distinctly Sunderland shaped strike, with Paulo da Silva providing the assist).

Steve Bruce completed the signing in May, thus well before the commencement of the World Cup, and he will certainly be pleased by Cristian’s notable displays – particularly since he prudently snatched him up on a free transfer, and before any more prying eyes were alerted.

Bruce indicated that Riveros ‘is a very creative midfielder and will enhance our attacking options’. Indeed he possibly will, as illustrated by his World Cup strike and thanks to his all-round ability. However he is primarily employed as a more defensive midfield option. Certainly, this is where he has featured for much of his domestic and international career and it effectively utilises many his key attributes. He is adept at breaking up play, tackling and tracking the opposition’s most dangerous assets and protecting the defence. Importantly, though, this is coupled with an adaptable ability to instigating attacks from deep, demonstrate astute comfort on the ball – an attribute evident in most South American sides during this World Cup – and an energetic, bustling approach.

So, Sunderland fans can comfortably sit back, relax and continue to track their Paraguayan World Cup representatives ahead of the new season. Whatever happens in Paraguay’s quarter-final fixture (1-0 Spain, get your money on it!), it certainly looks like an astute bit of business by Bruce.

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