In the Paraguay preview, we look ahead to this summer’s competition, predicting how Paraguay will finish as well as sharing the schedule of upcoming games and looking at their roster and players to watch out for.
Manager: Ramon Diaz
Captain: Paulo da Silva
Paraguay preview: Squad:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Diego Barreto (Olimpia, PAR), Antony Silva (Cerro Porteño, PAR), Justo Villar (Colo-Colo, CHI)
DEFENDERS (6): Iván Piris (Udinese, ITA), Fabián Balbuena (Corinthians, BRA), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca, MEX), Gustavo Gómez (Lanús, ARG), Miguel Samudio (Club América, MEX), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteño, PAR)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Víctor Ayala (Lanús, ARG), Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar, NED), Robert Piris Da Motta (Olimpia, PAR), Blas Riveros (Olimpia, PAR), Rodrigo Rojas (Cerro Porteño, PAR), Oscar Romero (Rácing Club, ARG)
FORWARDS (8): Miguel Almirón (Lanús, ARG), Edgar Benítez (Querétaro, MEX), Jorge Benítez (Cruz Azul, MEX), Derlis González (Dynamo Kiev, UKR), Juan Iturbe (Bournemouth, ENG), Darío Lezcano (Ingolstadt, GER), Antonio Sanabria (Sporting de Gijón, ESP), Nelson Valdez (Seattle Sounders FC, USA)
Paraguay preview: Overview:
In what is shaping up to be a wide open Group A, Paraguay will certainly think they have a fair chance of making it into the knockout stages. Although the squad named by Diaz contains a few surprises.
Not only has the manager sought to rely on a core of players that are based in the Americas—only five players will make the trip from the Europe—some familiar faces will be absent. Indeed, veteran forward Lucas Barrios has been left off the final 23-man list.
Even without the rangy target man, there’s a lot of quality in attacking areas. Roque Santa Cruz will likely provide a familiar focal point, although flanking him will be Juan Iturbe—who opted to play for Los Guaranies instead of Argentina in March—and Derlis Gonzalez, two players who can be scintillating with the ball at their feet.
While the strength of this team will come in attacking from the wide positions and getting crosses into the box, there are a few areas of concern. Paraguay still rely on 36-year-old Da Silva to hold the defence together, while Diaz has picked a squad light on numbers and quality in the midfield positions. It means organisation off the ball and work-rate will be vital.
Typically, that’s what you get from Paraguay teams. In last summer’s Copa a steely cohesion saw this team make it to the semi-finals, eliminating Brazil along the way. While they ran into an Argentina team at their best in the last four, losing 6-1, there have been some positive results in World Cup qualifying, most notably draws against both the Selecao and the Albiceleste.