Paraguay and Colombia meet at the Arena Fonte Nova on Sunday for their final outing of what’s been an interesting Copa America so far. There will be an odd atmosphere in the stadium, as Colombia have already qualified for the quarter finals and secured their spot atop the Group B standings with six points, while Paraguay are under real pressure to find three points from this encounter with Qatar and Argentina hot on their heels trying to overtake them. Colombia won’t simply allow Paraguay to come away with the win, but Paraguay will be desperately hoping that their opponents are a little off the gas come Sunday.
Colombia should be brimming with confidence ahead of this clash having kept a clean sheet in each of their opening two fixtures and netting three goals in total, two of which have come from Duvan Zapata. Their campaign could not have gotten off to a better start than when they saw off Lionel Messi’s Argentina by two clear goals on the opening day of Group B through strikes from Roger Martinez twenty minutes from time and later Zapata with four minutes remaining. With those three points came a huge feeling of “this could be Colombia’s year”, as well as an air of relief that they had swept aside their closest contenders for top spot on the table. The match against Qatar was arguably always going to be a bigger task. Their opponents opted to take on as much pressure as possible and hit on the counter attack, a tactic which worked perfectly until the very end when Zapata bagged the only goal of the day, again in the 86th minute of the affair. It was cruel on Qatar, but only strengthened the view that Colombia deserve to be one of the favourites to lift the trophy due to their resilience and determination to never say die.
Paraguay are yet to suffer defeat or taste victory as of now in this year’s Copa America, and with one win in four matches in both friendlies and competitive competition they appear to have become unbeatable. When facing Qatar, Paraguay took an early advantage through Oscar Cardozo from the penalty spot and Derlis Gonzalez doubled the lead, however Qatar would not rest until the scores were level again. Almoez Ali got one back, and eleven minutes later Rodrigo Rojas struck into his own net to see both sides come away with the points shared. A disappointing result, but also hugely character building. Not many people could see Paraguay beating Argentina after such a painful blow, but they were rather unfortunate to only earn one point on the day. Richard Sanchez handed Eduardo Berizzo’s team the lead in the first half, assisted by Newcastle attacker Miguel Almiron, and Paraguay looked as though they could go on and bag some more. That was until Lionel Messi slotted home his penalty just before an hour had passed, and Derlis Gonzalez gave
up the opportunity to retake the lead five minutes later when he missed his spot kick and saved Argentina’s blushes.
Colombia used 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 as their formations during the Copa America up to now. Against Argentina, they prefered Radamel Falcao up front ahead of Duvan Zapata, with Luis Muriel, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado sitting as a trio in attacking midfield. Muriel will play no further part in the Copa America as the attacker injured his medial collateral ligament and cannot take to the field until August. For this matchup, we can see Colombia going for 4-3-3 for the second match on the bounce with Falcao replacing Zapata, and perhaps Camilo Vargas in place of David Ospina as is usually the case with already qualified sides in major tournaments.
Paraguay are expected to have a full squad available here which will be a huge boost for the camp going into this all important tie. In both outings, Paraguay lined up with four in defense and changed the rest of the outfield positions, initially utilizing two defensive midfielders sitting deeper than the attacking three in front, with one number nine at the front of the attack against Qatar. There is no doubt that they switched to a different formation versus Argentina in an effort to mute Messi, with just two attackers in Miguel Almiron and Federico Santander while the rest remained as a solid united of four across midfield and four in defense.
Colombia may decide to rest a few of their key players for this one as they prepare themselves for the quarter finals having already topped the group, so Paraguay have a slight advantage in that respect. The pressure is truly on the team currently in second spot though, and because of this we can see a cagey affair with neither side really going for the killer blow until later in the game. Skybet have under 1.5 goals at 9/4 and we can’t help but think that’s a good price. This game does not look as though it will be a thriller on paper, and the previously mentioned bet goes hand in hand with our next tip: exactly one goal in the ninety minutes at 7/2 with Skybet. The tournament has been low scoring so far and should Paraguay take the lead they will shut up shop instead of throwing men forward, while Colombia have no reason to overly exert their players. Paraguay will probably mount a number of attacks in the early exchanges in an attempt to ease some nerves, and against what could be an out-of-sorts Colombian team they may force them into crumbling. Skybet have Paraguay to score in the first ten minutes at 15/2.
Under 1.5 goals at 9/4
One goal in the game at 7/2
Paraguay to score in first ten minutes at 15/2