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Sunday, 04 June 2006

3211: World Cup Group B Preview: Par


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by : Chris Sherrard

World Cup History

Paraguay’s efforts in the past in no way come close to their continental neighbours from Uruguay, Brazil or Argentina, but they are steadily improving.

Qualification from their group at their last two World Cups was achieved thanks to a hardy, resilient group of players like Celso Ayala and Carlos Gamarra.

The latter is included in the squad for Germany as skipper and his experience will be crucial.

They also reached the knock-out stage at the 1986 and have now qualified for seven World Cups.

In 2002, Paraguay came through their group along with Spain but were knocked out in the last 16 by Germany by a single goal.

Only the hosts and eventual Champions, France, eliminated an experienced Paraguay in 1998.

Qualification

Believe it or not, Paraguay led Argentina and Brazil at the early stages of qualifying in South America.

They eventual finished fourth in the zone and booked their place in Germany with a round of matches to spare.

Group prospects

It will be tough for the South Americans but they will fancy their chances of making the top two and qualifying from the group for a third successive time.

And it’s not beyond the realms of reality, either.

If they can take something from their opener against England then anything is possible for a pumped up and confident side.

Tournament prospects

While it would be foolish to rule anyone out at such an unpredictable stage in world football, I’d buy a hat and eat it if Paraguay won this World Cup.

They simply don’t have the strength in depth or the true quality to string together a lengthy run in Germany.

Star men

Carlos Bardes, a tenacious midfielder with Italians Reggina is the man who drives the team on from the engine room.

The vastly-experienced Gamarra, formerly with Inter Milan, is impossible to get past when he’s on his game.

The attacking pedigree of star striker Roque Santa Cruz, of Bayern Munich, attracts most of the headlines but watch out for Edgar Barreto, Roberto Acuna and Nelson Valdez – the new big hope of Paraguayan football.

Squad

Justo Villar, Jorge Núez, Delio Toledo, Carlos Gamarra, Julio Csar Cceres, Carlos Bonet, Salvador Cabaas, Edgar Barreto, Roque Santa Cruz, Roberto Miguel Acua, Diego Gaviln, Aldo Bobadilla, Carlos Humberto Paredes, Julio Manzur, Cristian Riveros, Jos Montiel, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Julio Dos Santos, Jos Cardozo, Denis Caniza, Derlis Gmez, Nelson Cuevas.

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