From the teams' talented shot-stoppers to a fixture that always produces goals. Goal.com explains why Paraguay versus Uruguay is an unmissable match this Sunday afternoonFEATURE
By Ralph Hannah
Five is a key number so far for this year’s Copa America finalists, Paraguay and Uruguay. Paraguay have arrived here on the back of five straight draws (a Copa America record) while Uruguay are set to finish in the top four for the fifth consecutive tournament. The two teams have met five times before in Buenos Aires, and will both be desperate to take the sixth meeting this Sunday at the Monumental in the Copa's showpiece match, crowning themselves champions of South America in the process.
The failure of Argentina and Brazil has, rather unfairly, somewhat diminished interest locally in the host nation. Both finalists, however, boast huge diaspora populations in the Argentine capital and you can be certain that River Plate's stadium will be packed to the rafters to accommodate these two football-mad nations.
Lionel Messi, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez and Co. will not be there on Sunday, but there are plenty of stars and quality players on show to guarantee a great game. Goal.com brings you five reasons to tune it attentively tomorrow, as the two teams go toe-to-toe in pursuit of glory.5) Goalkeeping talent on display
There is no doubt that this year’s tournament has been one for the defences and the goalkeepers. Much of this can be attributed to excellent shot-stopping; especially from Paraguay’s captain Justo Villar and his rival in the opposite goal on Sunday, Fernando Muslera (left). While Villar has made two key penalty shootout saves, Muslera made a couple of great stops in a matter of seconds against Argentina during extra time. Both goalkeepers will be of vital importance in the final, expect more heroics from both.
4) The historical significance
Whatever the result, the final will see records fall; and there are plenty to keep an eye out for. Uruguay would win their 15th title to pull clear of Argentina as the team with the most Copas to their name. A Paraguay victory on penalties, meanwhile would make them the first side to win a major tournament without winning a match. Gerardo Martino would also become the first foreign coach to win the Copa America, as a native of the host nation.
3) The off-pitch entertainment
While Paraguay have not exactly set the world alight during this tournament with their performances on the pitch, in the stands it has been another story. Larissa Riquelme (left) set the tone during the World Cup with her unforgettable support, and the Guarani goddess faces stiff competition with seemingly infinite numbers of fans competing for their time in front of the camera.
2) The chance of further fisticuffs
Uruguay hold the undistinguished record of having received the most sendings off at the Copa America, 31 after Diego Perez’s expulsion against Argentina. Paraguay have racked up five so far this tournament; Antolin Alcaraz and Jonathan Santana have both been dismissed from the field of play, while on the bench Gerardo Martino will serve a two-match touchline ban having been sent off twice. Even his assistant Jorge Pautasso saw red against Venezuela! Paraguay were also fined $10,000 (£6,134) after an unsightly brawl at the end of the semi-final, so a hotly-contested game, would come as little surprise.
1) Goals, goals, goals
Yes, you read that right; historically this fixture is a goal-fest. The teams have met five times in Copa America matches in Buenos Aires (though never a final) and there have been 19 goals, that is 3.8 per game. None of the five games have ever seen less than three strikes in the match. The good news for Paraguay fans is that they have won four of these encounters and have never failed to score. Players such as Lucas Barrios and Luis Suarez are also no slouches in front of the net, so a high-scoring game could be on the cards.