News Live Scores

World Cup 2010: Paraguay Profile

Coach: Gerardo Martino.
Confederation: CONMEBOL
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10): 30
Previous Appearances: 7 (1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006)

Background

This will be the eighth World Cup for la Albirroja, and the fourth in consecutive manner. In three of the last four Paraguay reached the first knockout round (Mexico 1986, Francia 1998 and Korea-Japan 2002). Paraguay have participated in 33 editions of the Copa America, and won the trophy twice, 1953 in Lima, Peru and 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Another recent achievement was the Silver medal at the Athens Olympics of 2004.

How They Qualified

Paraguay qualified for South Africa one matchday before the end of the South American group stage's conclusion after beating Venezuela 2-1. The Albirroja, who were the best team in the first half of the group, ended up in a respectable third place, below Brazil and Chile but before Argentina and Uruguay.

One of the stars of qualifying, Salvador Cabanas, was tragically shot in January of this year. While the forward survived, he is still in recovery and will not travel to South Africa with the rest of the squad.

Strengths

Paraguay's historical main strengh is the defense, and today is no exception. The team conceded just 16 goals in 18 matches during WC qualification, the second best record of all. The counterattack is one of their main weapons, and they are extremelly dangerous in the aerial game. In addition, Paraguay comprises a brave team that likes challenges and plays better if the opposition is harder.

Weaknesses

One of the weaknesses is a lack of possession play. Paraguayans don't really like to have the ball: they feel more comfortable waiting and counterattacking. Teams who pass well, such as Spain, would have a field day.

The Coach

Argentine boss Gerardo Martino has imposed in the Paraguayan national team the same work ethic that made him such a succesful coach with local clubs Cerro Porteno and Libertad. He is from the school of Marcelo Bielsa, so he's a firm believer in tactics and strategy. Generally he goes with a 4-4-2, with 4-3-3 deployed on special occasions.

Star Men

Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmund)

Another threat in the Paraguayan attack zone. He is a different kind of forward when compared to Cabanas. He adds a lot more pace and bravery to fight for every ball. His speed, technique and great aerial power make him a real predator inside the box.

Cristian Riveros (Cruz Azul)

Riveros is the player with the main creative role in Paraguay's central line, but he's more like an all-around midfielder, as he is very generous and helps his mates with marking and pressing. Nevertheless, his main atributte is his technique and passing, and his job to create the chances for Cabanas and Haedo.

Best Footballing Moment

Paraguay's best moments are their Copa America victories. The first one was in 1953, in Lima, Peru, after beating Brazil 3-2 in the final match. The second was in 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, beating Chile in the final, with a great generation of players, including Roberto Cabanas, Julio Cesar "Romerito", Roberto "Gato" Fernandez. The Gato, a skilled goalkeeper, later played in the 1986 World Cup.

Off The Pitch

Famous for: Drinking - but not that kind of drinking. Paraguay has extremely hot and dry weather, so the people are obliged to find ways to hydrate themselves. One way is drinking the traditional Terere, which is very similar to Uruguayan Mate (an infused drink made of shrub leaves and water). Also, Paraguay has several typical foods like such as a solid soup thickened with cornflour, and the Mbeju style of starchy omelets.

Most likely to: Shun local delicacies in favour of home-made food. The Paraguayan players will mantain their local diet during the World Cup, as the local FA has recruited a corps of chefs to take with them from South America to South Africa.

World Cup Objective

The dream of every Paraguayan is that the team could reach the famous "fifth match" (quarter-finals). The Round of 16 has been as a wall in recent World Cups for Paraguay, and now it's time for La Albirroja to make a step forward.