Argentina will be desperate to get back on track after a humiliating defeat versus Colombia last time out which has seen them slump to the very bottom of Group B in this year’s Copa America. They should be one of the favourites for the competition, however with more displays like that they could soon find themselves on the first plane back to Buenos Aires. Paraguay also got off to a rather rocky start, giving up a two goal lead against tournament invitees Qatar in the last twenty minutes which will have dented their confidence severely.
It’s almost impossible to think of Argentina without thinking of Lionel Messi, and that tends to be the issue with the national side. In the opening clash with Colombia they looked toothless in attack and after conceding the first goal, the second always appeared to be right around the corner. Of course, Messi can’t be blamed for everything that went wrong in that affair, if any of it. The five time Ballon D’Or winner was not given the right service and quite simply, the quality surrounding him was below par. Stars such as Sergio Aguero and in particular, Angel Di Maria, performed to a terrible standard for most of the game which led to a lacklustre ninety minutes from the rest of a helpless midfield and defence. Nicolas Otamendi is virtually the only player who can hold his head up high and be proud of his performance, but the rest should be chomping at the bit to get back out there and make things right.
Paraguay’s sole victory in the lead up to the Copa America came against Guatemala earlier this month, with the match finishing 2-0 thanks to goals from Gustavo Gomez and Derlis Gonzalez, the latter of which was bagged from the penalty spot. Prior to that win, Paraguay had been defeated twice and drawn twice, shipping seven goals in the process. So, when they met Qatar in their first matchup of this summer’s tournament it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to see them struggle to beat the Asian Cup winners. The match could not have begun any better with a goal inside five minutes from Oscar Cardozo, and just before the hour mark Gonzales netted the second and what looked like a killing blow to their opponents hopes of getting any points from the match. A strike from Almoez Ali changed that however, and ten minutes later Rodrigo Rojas hit into his own net to see both sides share the spoils.
It doesn’t look as though Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has any real plan for this side, interchanging between various formations in each match they partake in. Against Colombia it was a 4-3-3, with Lionel Messi, Aguero and Di Maria leading a front line which looks deadly on paper yet turned out to be breathtakingly horrendous
in real life. The trio don’t work together, or at least, they haven’t clicked yet, but it is expected that Scaloni will opt for the same formation again and attempt to force them into gelling together despite their qualities not matching. Roberto Pereyra and Esteban Andrada will sit this one out due to their respective injury problems.
Paraguay have nothing to report in terms of injury concerns, a vital factor in a pivotal fixture during these all important group stage encounters. Versus Guatemala and Honduras they used a 4-3-3 line up, but soon changed to a 4-2-3-1 against Qatar. This switch worked to their benefit for the majority of the tie until they were eventually undone by two second half goals, one of which netted by their own player. Here, we can see them going a little more defensive and perhaps going 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 in an attempt to give no space to the Argentine forwards, though Eduardo Berizzo may have his own ploy to demolish Lionel Messi and co.
Argentina have been in tough situations before. Losing the World Cup final and only taking home a silver medal from the last Copa America would have been painful, but they are now in a real predicament. Fail to find three points from this one and their entire Copa America campaign could be in jeopardy, which is why we think they’ll find a way to come away with three points. Bet365 have Argentina to win and BTTS at 5/2 and that’s an outcome we can see happening, with Paraguay capable up front and the Argentine defence not the best. It will be a very close game, and similar to Argentina’s last victory away from home, we can see this one being won by a single goal. Odds of 12/5 are available with Bet365 for Argentina to run out victors by one goal from this one, and for BTTS you can find a price of 21/20 with the same bookmaker. It appears almost certain that both teams will score, the question is: Will Argentina do what is required of them?
Argentina to win and BTTS at 5/2
Argentina win by one goal at 12/5
BTTS at 21/20