Copa America 2015 Team Guide: Paraguay
Our look at the 2015 Copa America and the participating nations continues with Paraguay, the surprise finalists in 2011 and a side containing some hugely experienced names.
It would take more huge upsets for La Albirroja to reach the latter stages again this year, but as the last event showed, anything can happen in international football. Here we look at Paraguay’s key individuals and their record in the competition ahead of the tournament start in Chile on June 11.
Other teams covered so far:
Paraguay have named three players in their squad who have more than a century of caps: goalkeeper Justo Villar has 107, centre-back Paulo da Silva has 120 and centre-forward Roque Santa Cruz has 104. By contrast, eight members of the squad have fewer than 10 caps. Bruno Valdez is the only uncapped outfielder.
Goal listed the final 23-man selection:
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).
Ramon Diaz took charge of Paraguay at the end of 2014, and the Copa America is his first chance to look at his squad properly, with just two friendlies played since his appointment. Paraguay failed to score in either.
A multiple title-winner with River Plate, Diaz has picked a mix of a squad that leaves, as La Celeste Blog puts it, it looking as though Diaz is “already looking ahead to the World Cup Qualifiers...treating the group games as friendlies and [a chance to] experiment with a mixture of youth and experience.”
Whether he can genuinely push Paraguay somewhere back toward the top of South American football remains to be seen after they finished bottom of CONMEBOL's nine-team league for 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Paraguay’s squad still contains some of their big-name strikers from yesteryear—Santa Cruz, Valdez, Barrios—but none are really making an impact on the game now as age catches up with them.
Instead, Richard Ortiz is a versatile performer who moved to the Liga MX a couple of years ago and has flourished with Toluca, being a mainstay for them whether from the centre of the park or the left side of midfield.
The 25-year-old is one of a handful who perhaps have the ability to push Paraguay on in the Copa and also boost their own profiles.
One to Watch
Derlis Gonzalez is perhaps the big hope for Paraguayan football, with the pacy wide attacker enjoying a good season with Basel in Switzerland and playing Champions League football this season.
Trickery on the ball, direct running and the capacity to get into good goalscoring positions means he can be an outlet on the counter and a focal point for attacks to flow through, though he doesn’t perhaps yet have the consistency with his end product to suggest he’s a guaranteed source of goals or chances.
Paraguay can usually be counted on to reach the knockout stages of the competition, though the abject failure of the last World Cup qualification campaign was a stark reminder that while progress is difficult, a fast and hard fall can come quickly. Even so, a final appearance under Tata Martino in 2011 was above and beyond what anyone expected of the side.
Winners: Twice (1953 and 1979)
Last four: 13
Most Recent Finishes
2001: Group stage
13 June, 6.30 p.m. (CLT), Estadio La Portada, La Serena
Argentina vs. Paraguay
16 June, 6 p.m. (CLT), Estadio Regional de Antofagasta, Antofagasta
Paraguay vs. Jamaica
20 June, 4 p.m. (CLT), Estadio La Portada, La Serena
Uruguay vs. Paraguay