Paraguay takes on Qatar in their opening match for the 2019 Copa America in Brazil
Paraguay and Qatar are in Group B and are joined by Argentina and Colombia who face each other one day before Paraguay and Qatar square off on June 16, 2019, at the Estadio de Maracana in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The winners and runners-up of each group plus the two best third-placed teams advance to the quarterfinals. The winner of group B will face the runner-up of Group C in the quarterfinals while the runner-up of Group B will play the runner-up of Group A in the last eight. If the third placer of Group B qualifies, it will either face the winner of Group A or C. Before the knockouts though, the teams are set to play round-robin against their group-mates.
This is the schedule of the round-robin matches for Group B:
|June 15||Argentina vs Colombia||11pm / 6pm||Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador|
|June 16||Paraguay vs Qatar||8pm / 3pm||Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro|
|June 19||Colombia vs Qatar||10:30pm / 5:30pm||Estadio do Morumbi, Sao Paulo|
|June 19||Argentina vs Paraguay||1:30am / 8:30pm||Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte|
|June 23||Qatar vs Argentina||8pm / 3pm||Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre|
|June 23||Colombia vs Paraguay||8pm / 3pm||Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador|
Paraguay won the Copa America in 1953 and 1979 but those wins are just distant memories right now. This side had their golden generation in the ’90s with the likes of Chilavert, Ayala, Gamarra, Arce, Jose Saturnino Cardozo, and Alvarenga but even with those names, they never made the semifinals. Paraguay was a surprise 4th placer in the 2015 Copa America but in the last edition, they finished at the bottom of their group with just a solitary point earned during the first round of action. Paraguay has been 0-4 with one draw in five friendly matches since the end of the FIFA World Cup 2017 qualifiers. This poor form is a concern heading to the 2019 Copa America.
Eduardo Berizzo’s final 23-man squad is as follows:
- Goalkeepers: Antony Silva, Roberto Junior Fernandez, Alfredo Aguilar
- Defenders: Gustavo Gomez, Ivan Piris, Bruno Valdez, Junior Alonso, Fabian Balbuena, Juan Escobar, Santiago Arzamendia, Ivan Torres
- Midfielders: Oscar Romero, Richard Ortiz, Rodrigo Rojas, Miguel Almiron, Celso Ortiz, Matias Rojas
- Forwards: Oscar Cardozo, Hernan Perez, Derlis Gonzalez, Federico Santander, Cecilio Dominguez, Juan Iturbe
Odds from Bet365 as of 6/05/19
Their invitation to be one of the two guest non-CONMEBOL teams in the 2019 Copa America is proof that Qatar football has indeed gone very far. Since they were named as 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts, they have been playing improved and inspired football. Paraguay’s surprise 3-1 victory over Japan in the Asian Cup final earlier this year was their first major title and could jumpstart their rise in football. On opening day, they will be the first Arab football team to play in the Copa America. If they can pull-off an opening day win over Paraguay, there is a chance they can advance to the quarterfinals.
The final 23-man squad of Felix Sanchez Bas is composed of the following:
- Goalkeepers: Saad Al Sheeb, Youssef Hassan, Mohammed Al Bakri
- Defenders: Tareq Salman, Abdulkarim Hassam, Hamed Ismael, Tameem Al-Muhaza, Assim Madebo, Salem Alhajri, Ahmed Fathy, Pedro Correira, Al Mahdi Ali, Bassam Husham
- Midfielders: Boualem Khoukhi, Karim Boudiaf, Ali Afif, Abdulaziz Hatim, Abdullah Abdul Salam
- Forwards: Akram Afif, Hassan Al Haydos, Almoez Ali, Ahmed Al Aaeldin, Ahmed Moein, Abdulaziz Al Ansari
The arrival of Eduardo Berizzo was the patch that Paraguay football had been looking for after Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio quit after just five months. But to expect big things from Paraguay this early may be too much to ask from the Argentine tactician with his first order of business is putting the team together, balancing the young and experienced players on his squad and ultimately preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But despite Berizzo having long-term and not immediate goals in mind, don’t expect the Guarani to just lay down and die.
One of the historical attributes of Paraguayan football is perhaps its best asset. You can always doubt on their abilities but never their competitive spirit. Regardless of the game or situation, the fighting spirit of Paraguay will always keep them in the thick of things. The presence of promising talents like Almirón, Balbuena, and Rojas gives this team plenty of potentials. How they make Paraguay better remains to be seen.
Like Paraguay, Qatar is looking at the long-term picture. The soccer betting odds have pegged them as big underdogs in this match but when you look at how they dominated the Asian Cup, this looks like a team that may be capable of winning matches at this level. Qatar scored 10 goals and yielded none during the group stage where they defeated Lebanon, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Felix Sanchez’s boys then rampaged over Iran in the last 16, South Korea in the quarterfinals and then blanked hosts United Arab Emirates in the semis 4-0. Then in the final, they upset fancied Japan 3-1 led by their young duo of Almoez Ali and Akram Afif. These 22-year-olds are going to lead them in the Copa America and against Paraguay, they may be able to get goal-scoring opportunities.
Both these teams are looking at the long-term but I think the experience of Paraguay is going to be the key here. No question, Qatar has improved vastly in the past decade but they have never been in this kind of competition before. Prediction: Paraguay