Paraguay: Recovery Mode
Paraguay is looking for nothing short of revenge against its fellow Conmebol members after finishing last in the World Cup qualifiers for Brazil. They are also one of the many South American teams beginning a new process during Copa América: Argentine coach Ramón Díaz took the reins of the team only five months ago.
In Chile, Paraguay will play in group B, against guest team Jamaica and powerhouses Argentina and Uruguay.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Paraguay is known for its character, the so-called Garra Guaraní. They are warriors that never give up in a game, and have achieved their best results when they had been able to add talent to that aggressive mentality. FC Basel star Derlis González and AZ Alkmaar midfielder Celso Ortiz are the new stars in charge of that delicate task.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: The mental health of Paraguay’s team is uncertain after the World Cup qualifiers fiasco. Copa America is the beginning of a new era and a lot of pieces will be missing for the Guaraníes.
COPA AMÉRICA CHANCES: Paraguay’s roster combines youth and experience with players able to read the challenges of the tournament. Debuting against Argentina will help them prepare for the two finals they’ll be playing against Jamaica and Uruguay in hopes of moving on to the quarter-finals. But if the group manages to find a connection, they could very well finish in the top places.
FUN FACT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In past decades, thanks to massive migrations, the Albirroja has included players of Paraguayan descent born and raised in Argentina, and this Copa América they’ll have three players with that history: Néstor Ortigoza, Lucas Barrios and Raúl Bobadilla. The roster also includes Jonathan Fabbro, a naturalized Argentine who made his career in the Paraguayan league and dated Larissa Riquelme, a local model that caught the attention of many during the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
IF THEY WERE A MOVIE, IT WOULD BE: NYC gang classic The Warriors. Paraguay will fight until the end of the game.