Match Preview: Colombia vs Paraguay

Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador will host Colombia and Paraguay for the last round of Copa America’s Group B tonight at 21:00 (CET).

Colombia have already booked their place in the 2019 Copa America quarter-finals, winning six points in their two games at the competition so far.

Duvan Zapata scored a late winner against Qatar last Wednesday to secure the first place on the table for Los Cafeteros. It was his second goal at the competition, after netting in the opener against Argentina as well, a game Colombia won 2-0.

Paraguay sits in second with two points at the moment. They threw away a 2-0 lead against Qatar in the first round and missed a penalty against Argentina in the second round, drawing both games 2-2 and 1-1 respectively.

A win would see them qualify for the knockout phase, and even a draw could do it for La Albirroja, only if one of the encounters between Qatar and Argentina or Ecuador and Japan also finishes without a winner.

Team news

Luis Muriel is out for Colombia, after suffering an injury in the opening game against Argentina which will see him miss the rest of the tournament.

Los Cafeteros have secured their first place in Group B, so it can be expected to see Carlos Queiroz rest some of his best players before the start of the knockout phase.

Paraguay’s most experienced player Oscar Cardozo sat out the game against Argentina, but can return for La Albirroja’s most important game at the competition.

Derlis Gonzalez scored after coming from the bench in the opener against Qatar, but missed the penalty which could have won Paraguay’s game against Argentina last Wednesday. However, he is expected to keep his place in the starting XI.

What did the managers say

Colombia boss Carlos Queiroz believes his players passed a maturity test, coping with the pressure to score a late winner against Qatar in the last round.

“The match was a test of maturity and the players have done very well,” said the Portuguese coach via Copa America’s official website.

“We prepared these situations very well, we knew it could happen, everyone was ready to fight and play for 90 minutes (…) At the end of the game, we suffered because we didn’t have the ability to score an early goal.

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“Ninety minutes of concentration, ninety minutes of pressure, always attacking the opponent and when we lost the ball, there is a great merit in not letting Qatar play.”

Eduardo Berizzo was disappointed with the 1-1 draw after the game against Argentina, saying his players deserved to win the three points.

“I would not like to look pretentious, but I think we lost two points,” Berizzo told reporters at a press conference, via beIN Sports.

“We had the best chances, we did not get much against us, and the development of the game, even when Argentina had more possession, was right, it was solid. They lacked a threat against us.

“It makes me think that, if we converted that penalty or scored on the counter-attack, we would have deserved the victory.”

Stats

Colombia have suffered only one defeat in ten games after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, noting eight wins and one draw in the process.

Paraguay, on the other hand, have won only one of their last 10 games, a 2-0 victory over Guatemala in a friendly game two weeks ago.

La Albirroja’s last win in a competitive game came in October 2017, beating no other than Colombia in a World Cup qualifiers game in Barranquilla.

Both sides have faced each other 10 times at the South American Championships, winning five games each.

Their latest encounter came in the group stage of the 2016 Copa America, a game in which James Rodriguez scored and assisted one to guide Los Cafeteros to a 2-1 victory.

Paraguay failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the Copa America only twice in the past 28 years. They have a perfect chance to keep the good tradition and book their place in the quarter-finals with a win tonight.

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