Connect to share and comment

Paraguay World Cup team aims to prove itself in 2010 games

The Paraguayan national team hopes to prove itself equal to powerful neighbors Brazil and Argentina at the Cup.

A Paraguay soccer fan walks under an umbrella on "Fan-Mile" in Berlin, Germany on June 7 during the 2006 World Cup. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Paraguay World Cup Team Statistics: Group F

Status: Advance to round 2, advance to quarterfinals, knocked out semifinals.

World Ranking: 31
World Cup 2010 Results: 2-1-2
Total goals scored: 8
Total goals scored against: 5

Paraguay World Cup Schedule: June 14 - Italy (1-1 draw); June 20 - Slovakia (2-0 win); June 24 - New Zealand (0-0 draw), June 29 - Japan (5-3 win), July 3 - Spain (0-1 loss). 

Paraguay World Cup Soccer 2010

Jose Luis Chilavert, the flashy goalkeeper who was famous for both his big saves and his unerring penalty kicks in the 1990s, once spit on a Brazilian rival as a gesture of contempt for Brazil’s failure to return land seized in a mid-19th Century war. That war left Paraguay land-locked and Paraguayans carrying an eternal chip on their shoulder, particularly when it comes to their bigger, richer, more powerful neighbors.

Read all of GlobalPost's World Cup 2010 coverage

It manifests itself on the soccer field where Paraguay has established itself as the third best team in South America, a distant number three behind 1A Brazil and 1B Argentina. Paraguayan players are notably tough and gritty and nobody really likes playing against them. The whole nation waits for the one surpassing performance that will show up those countries and establish Paraguay as a truly worthy rival.

Paraguay World Cup History: Has qualified for eight Cups, but never progressed beyond the second round. Still, it threatens: it took eventual champion France to extra time in 1998 and in 2002 lost in the last minute to Germany, which would go on to the finals.

Paraguay World Cup Schedule: June 14 - Italy; June 20 - Slovakia; June 24 - New Zealand.

Paraguay World Cup Conventional Wisdom: Paraguay impressed during qualification, with wins over both Brazil and Argentina. Locals regard it as their best team of recent vintage. It has come close to making a run before and, with a few breaks, this could be the year.

Take GlobalPost's World Cup quiz.

Paraguay World Cup Team Coach: Gerardo Martino

The Argentinean has an impressive record with Paraguayan clubs and now in South American qualification. The team has demonstrated discipline, cohesion and confidence under his direction. He insists he will take risks to push Paraguay to new heights — including risking his job to make history.

Paraguay World Cup Team Strength: Very strong in central defense and, even after the retirement of Chilavert, in the goal. Surrendered less than one goal a game in South America’s marathon qualification, second best defensive record to Brazil.

Paraguay World Cup Team Weakness: Tends to give up possession too easily in the midfield; quick to retreat, relying on its formidable defense.

Paraguay World Cup Key Player: Salvador Cabanas

It’s never good when your key player is not going to play. Cabanas has made a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head at a Mexico City bar last January. But the comeback effort of the team’s top scorer has fallen short and he won’t take the field in South Africa. Thus the critical challenge is to find a replacement for his goals.

There are several candidates playing for top European clubs. Of late, Oscar Cardozo has flashed the best form. He scored both goals for Benfica in a win that gave the Lisbon side its first Portuguese title in five years. The talented Roque Santa Cruz is another hope, the hope being that he plays better than he did for Manchester City this season.

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/paraguay-world-cup