We now move onto the surprise package at the 2011 Copa America – Paraguay, who reached the final and lost to Uruguay. Look at their squad and you will see a raft of big name players who you’d think would do well, but delve deeper and you will see why they have struggled of late. Anyway, here is their squad:
Goalkeepers: Alfredo Aguilar (Guarani), Anthony Silva (Independiente Medellin) and Justo Villar (Colo Colo).
Defenders: Pablo Aguilar (America), Fabian Balbuena (Libertad), Marcos Caceres (Newell’s Old Boys), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Ivan Piris (Udinese), Miguel Samudio (America) and Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno).
Midfielders: Eduardo Aranda (Olimpia), Victor Caceres (Flamengo), Osvaldo Martinez (America), Osmar Molinas (Libertad), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo), Richard Ortiz (Toluca) and Oscar Romero (Racing).
Forwards: Lucas Barrios (Montpellier), Edgar Benitez (Toluca), Raul Bobadilla (Augsburg), Derlis Gonzalez (Basel), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Roque Santa Cruz (Cruz Azul)
Coach: Ramon Diaz
Likely Lineup (4-3-3): Villar, M Caceras, Da Silva, Aguilar, Samudio, Ortiz, V Caceras, Molinas, Bentiez, Bobadilla, Gonzalez
Ramon Diaz was a brilliant striker for Argentina, and had a good career in Italy where he played for Avellino, Fiorentina and Inter among others. He was also a very successful manager with River Plate on 3 spells, San Lorenzo twice and strangely managed Oxford for a season. 4 years ago, a lot of these players like Santa Cruz and Nelson Valdez were in their 20’s, but now are ageing and not well at all – infact I’m not sure how Valdez got a reputation as a good striker as his goal return is horrific. The front few give them hope. Gonzalez is making a name for himself at Basel, scoring 3 good goals this season in the Champions League against Porto, Real Madrid and Ludogorets. Raul Bobadilla had a good season at Augsburg, while Richard Ortiz continues to impress at Toluca in Mexico.
What to Expect?
Tough opposition, hard to break down. Diaz will have them organised and playing good football. There is enough talent for him to work with, Edgar Benitez and Lucas Barrios experienced players with good goal-records for their club sides over the last few years – Barrios I rate higher than Valdez – his goal return is very good! They have Jamaica in their group alongside both Uruguay and Argentina, so I’m expecting a a 3rd place finish, but beating Uruguay is a real possibility!
Again, very little value on show here. 11/4 to qualify the lowest price you will find on them for anything. Even to qualify is something high like 14/1.
Same as Ecuador, I expect them to reach the last 8 by virtue of the Best 3rd Placed team out of the 2 spots available through that. After that, they will be expectedly knocked out by someone like Brazil, or Colombia. If they reach the final, like in 2011 (20/1), I would be shocked! They have a very handy coach, as well as some good players, but there are better around in this tournament, and you need a good first 11, which they don’t have really with a shakey back four and ageing keeper, who isunfortunately no Jose Chilavert!