Paraguay World Cup Team Preview
Odds to Win World Cup: +8000
Even though Paraguay has a side that hasn't had a ton of World Cup success in the past, many feel as though this is the year that La Albirroja can make some real noise on the global stage in South Africa.
How They Got Here: The Paraguayans have never qualified for the World Cup with as much ease as they did for 2010. They picked up 33 points in the 18 matches, which comfortably finished ahead of the likes of Uruguay and Argentina. Scoring 24 goals in the 18 matches was an impressive feat, especially in a very defensive minded South American section of the World Cup draw. However, allowing just 16 goals and posting seemingly clean sheet after clean sheet was the real difference.
Player to Watch: Unfortunately for Paraguay, F Salvador Cabanas, who led the qualifying effort in goal scoring, won't be playing in this World Cup. However, this is still a side that has plenty of potential, headed up by F Roque Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz didn't play in most of the qualifying efforts for this World Cup, and he will be able to step into the shoes vacated by Cabanas. As a member of the Paraguay national team since 1999, Santa Cruz has scored 21 goals. He plays his club soccer in the English Premier League for Manchester City, and with stops in Blackburn and with Bayern Munich under his belt as well, Santa Cruz is most certainly familiar with this level of competition.
Previous World Cup Experience: Ironically, for a nation that has played in seven World Cups and in three straight, this is a team that has never won more than one match at a time in the competition. La Albirroja has won exactly one match six times in their country's history, but have never made it out of the Round of 16. The team only saw four goals hit the back of the net in 2006 in Germany, two for and two against in three matches before being eliminated in the group stage with just three points.
Key to Advancing: It was defense that brought Paraguay here, and it is going to be defense that once again is going to need to carry it into the second round. This is a manageable group that provides a great opportunity to tally six points, and the Paraguayans absolutely cannot miss out on such chances. At times, Santa Cruz may be the only striker left up, which may not produce the prettiest soccer that the world has ever seen, but it is the strategy that the South American nation absolutely has to go with to find success, particularly if it can strike early in games.
Predictions: We like Paraguay's chances of perhaps even being able to spring the upset and to win Group F. Italy can be had, particularly in the early stages before the chips are really in the center of the table. Still, a failed effort at winning the group may set up a very unfortunate date with Holland in the second round of the draw, and though this may be the first time that this nation can score two wins in a World Cup, it isn't going to be a long stay in South Africa if the Dutch are the next team that comes calling.
Round 1 Schedule
Italy vs. Paraguay (June 14th, 2:30 PM ET, Cape Town)
Slovakia vs. Paraguay (June 20th, 7:30 AM ET, Mangaung)
Paraguay vs. New Zealand (June 24th, 10:00 AM ET, Polokwane)
All Odds for 2010 World Cup from Brobury Sports
|Odds to Win Group F|
New Zealand +5000
Odds to Advance Group F
New Zealand +650