Sudamericano 2015: Paraguay Squad Preview

Victor Genes has named his 23-man squad for the 2015 Sudamericano in Uruguay that starts next week. Genes guided the previous group of players to the runners-up spot in 2013 and the World Cup. This year not only a place in the 2015 World Cup is up for grabs but a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Here we look at six key players who will be crucial to the Albirrojita’s chances, they kick off on 14th January against Bolivia, full list of fixtures at the bottom of the post.

DEFENCE 

Iván Cañete

Iván Cañete

Club: Atlético Madrid

D.o.B: 22 April 1995

Place of Birth: Luque

Height: 185 cm

Weight: 78 kg

Position: Central defender

The defender moved to Spain aged 12 and was at Rayo Vallecano at U-14 level and the first half of the U-15 season before moving to the Colchoneros. He describes himself as good on the ball and an excellent communicator so he will be expected to organize the defence and try to bring some stability while under pressure. Having been learning from Miranda and Godín over the last couple of years he should be one of the most accomplished defenders on show in Uruguay.

MIDFIELD

Jesús Medina

JesusMedina

Club: Libertad

D.o.B: 30 April 1997

Place of Birth: Limpio

Height: 179 cm

Weight: 67 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

The 17-year-old has been fast-tracked into the U20s because of his enormous talent, the midfielder made his debut in Primera in 2012 aged just 15 and his performances during the U17s Sudamericano in 2013 even saw him linked with a move to PSG. He’s great on the ball, quick feet and a great left foot that can create and score goals. He is likely to be used as an impact sub but expect that impact to be felt.

Jeremías Bogado

JeremiasBogado

Club: Olimpia

D.o.B: 04 July 1995

Place of Birth: Limpio

Height: 172 cm

Weight: 66 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

Bogado broke through into the senior side during the 2014 Apertura making his debut in March but he really came to the fore during the Clausura making 14 appearances and scoring his first senior goal against 3 de Febrero. He makes good runs into the box and will be looking to support his strikers at every opportunity.

Danilo Santacruz

DaniloSantacruzClub: Libertad

D.o.B: 12 June 1995

Place of Birth: Caaguazú

Height: 178 cm

Weight: 75 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

Another product of the Libertad youth system he has made his presence felt at senior level already including a match winning performance against 12 de Octubre in the Clausura. He can run at players and get into the box and is likely to be one of key scoring threats alongside Díaz and Sanabria (see below)

ATTACK

Tonny Sanabria

Sanabria

Club: AS Roma, Italy

D.o.B: 04 March 1996

 Place of Birth: San Lorenzo 

Height: 180 cm

 Weight: 72 kg

 Position: Striker

 

The former La Masia man has had a stellar rise through the Paraguay ranks, in 2013 he played the U17s Sudamericano, the U20s World Cup that same year and weeks afterwards made his senior debut against Germany in Kaiserslautern. He’s yet to get much game time for the Roma senior side but is often in the matchday squad. That kind of experience should suit him at this level and expect him to be one of the stars of the tournament.

Sergio Díaz


SergioDiaz

Club: Cerro Porteño

D.o.B: 05 March 1998

Place of Birth: Itauguá

Height: 172 cm

Weight: 66 kg

Position: Forward

The diminuitive attacker is the youngest member of the squad but has more senior experience than most having played most of the Clausura in 2014. He managed 8 goals in the league as he formed a partnership with European Champion and Pichichi winner Dani Guiza. Díaz’s low centre of gravity and weaving runs in and around the box has drawn comparisons with Kun Aguero of Manchester City. Expect good things from one of the most exciting players to emerge from Paraguay in the last decade.

FIXTURE LIST

14 JAN vs Bolivia

16 JAN vs Argentina

20 JAN vs Ecuador

22 JAN vs Peru

Should Paraguay finish in the top 3 of this group (they are expected to) they’ll play the Hexagonal final from 26 Jan to 7 Feb with the Top 4 qualifying for the 2015 U20s World Cup, the winner also qualifies for the Olympics and the runner-up has a playoff for the Summer Games.

FULL SQUAD LIST

Goalkeepers: José Colmán (3 de Febrero), Miguel Mereles (Libertad), Tomás Echague (Sportivo Luqueño).

Defenders: Ariel Benítez (Guaraní), Iván Cañete (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Marcos González (Olimpia), Omar Alderete (Cerro Porteño), José Sanabria (Libertad), Juan Escobar (Sportivo Luqueño) & Saúl Salcedo (Olimpia).

Midfielders: Gustavo Viera (Corinthians, Brazil) Jesús Medina (Libertad), Jeremías Bogado (Olimpia), Roque Guachire (Libertad), Walter Araújo (Sol de América), Ángel Benítez (Libertad), Enrique Araújo (Nacional) & Danilo Santacruz (Libertad).

Forwards: Tonny Sanabria (Roma, Italy), Luis Amarilla (Libertad), Brahian Ayala (Rubio Ñu), Sergio Díaz (Cerro Porteño) & Walter González (Olimpia).

By Ralph Hannah

2015 Paraguay Apertura preview

The New Year means the start of a new season in Paraguay and a brutal pre-season. The searing heat of January a reason for most Paraguayans to migrate to the beaches of Brazil or Uruguay but spare a thought for their footballers who will be shaking off festive excess in temperatures of around 40c. For three of the 12 clubs, Libertad, Guarani and Cerro Porteño, the Copa Libertadores is set to provide the main distraction but for Olimpia, Nacional and a rejuvenated Sportivo Luqueño their sights are set on the Apertura title.

What follows is a club-by-club guide from the major contenders so you know what to expect more or less in the coming 6 months. It all kicks off on 31 January (or maybe the 30th, this is Paraguay).

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Club Libertad

2014 Apertura: 1st
2014 Clausura: 1st

Pedro Sarabia won his first two full tournaments as a coach bringing Libertad their first “bi-campeonato” since 2008. While he was attracted to a role under Ramón Díaz and the Albirroja the former-River man has surrounded himself with Argentinians and as such Sarabia will continue this year. The main aim is of course the Libertadores but they have a strong squad and with the inclusion of two full-backs Saldivar and Vergara they will have strength in depth in defence. Jorge Gonzalez has stayed and they’ve retained the services of both goalkeepers. Oscar Ruiz, who had a great campaign with Capiatá, has returned to the club and will add more creativity up front.

One to Watch: Oscar Ruiz – this is the big year for the 23-year-old to really prove if he has what it takes, dangerous from the dead ball and a great shot from distance he is exciting to watch

Predicition: Title challengers but with Libertadores they won’t have enough to win it

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Club Guaraní

2014 Apertura: 2nd
2014 Clausura: 3rd

A wonderful calendar year and if Libertad weren’t so strong they may well have picked up a tournament. They were aided by the record-breaking 36 goals from Fernando Fernandez that contributed to a record 105 goals by the team during 2014. With Fernandez’s exploits likely to see him move abroad they have already brought back Julian Benítez and incorporated Roberto Gamarra to make sure the goals don’t dry up. Capiatá goalkeeper Antonio Franco is set to join while Marcelo Palau should stay on – he is a key man in midfield. Alberto Contrera, Arturo Aquino, Rubén Maldonado are the other main signings for 2015.

One to Watch: Left winger Iván Gonzalez Ferreira the younger brother of Julio Gonzalez (ex-Vicenza player who lost his arm in a car accident) is hugely talented and has had spells in Germany, Switzerland and Brazil. He blows hot and cold but regardless is a constant danger for opposing teams.

Prediction: Top 6 but the Libertadores is no.1 priority

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Club Cerro Porteño

2014 Apertura: 4th
2014 Clausura: 2nd

Leo Astrada is known to favour the Copa Libertadores and don’t expect much from them domestically as the azulgrana continue their quest for that elusive international tournament. Julio Dos Santos has left the club just two goals short of becoming the record topscorer (from midfield) while fellow veteran Diego Barreto has decided it is time to finally move on Oscar Romero will surely head off although he did show up for pre-season. Some good signings have been made though with young striker Cecilio Dominguez getting his first shot at a big club and the pacey left sided player Blas Cáceres joining the ranks, both players are currently sporting what can only be described as a “Fellaini”. Right back Angel Martínez comes in from Capiatá and David Mendieta has returned from Jaguares in Mexico to bolster the midfield.

One to watch: Sergio Díaz is too young to move abroad so the 16-year-old is set to wow us all for another season, expect even more goals from him this year he is a serious talent

Prediction: 5th or 6th

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Club Olimpia

2014 Apertura: 3rd
2014 Clausura: 6th

A decent start to the year and the promotion of some exciting youngsters and signing of Christian Ovelar led many to believe – including me – that the Clausura would be Olimpia’s but having been top after 9 games they faded away. Pumpido will continue into 2015 and new president Trovato has given him plenty of support in the transfer market with the signings of ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Christian Campestrini and Claudio David Vargas from current champions Libertad. The former’s inclusion however has caused a rupture with only one space for another foreign player and Pumpido is said to prefer Miguel Amado to Juan Manuel Salguiero and the ex-San Lorenzo playmaker didn’t show up for pre-season. Other key signings are Iván Torres (Ex-Cerro), Fredy Bareiro, Jorge Salinas and Eduardo Aranda who returns to the club.

One to Watch: Although Salinas has European experience the more exciting player is teenager Carlos Guerreño who should be back from injury in time to terrorize full backs once again

Prediction: Top 3

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Club Nacional

2014 Apertura: 7th
2014 Clausura: 5th

Last year was arguably the biggest in the club´s history, they may have knocked around mid-table but they were Copa Libertadores finalists a tremendous achievement considering the size of the club. With no such distractions this year they are firm candidates for the Apertura with Morinigo still at the helm. He’s brought in Dionicio Perez from Libertad who covers for Julian Benítez (now Libertad) and in midfield the departure of Torales to Mexico has been filled by the arrival of Joel Lesme from 12 de Octubre while on the left 19-year-old Hector Bustamante has come in from 3 de Febrero. Other signings included Roque Cardozo, Arnaldo Castorino, José Montiel and Milton Benítez.

One to Watch: If he stays Marcos Riveros, the main man in central midfield, otherwise goalkeeper Ignacio Don with cleansheets so important to Morinigo and this Nacional team

Prediction: 1st or 2nd – they have a habit of winning while the other big clubs focus on the Libertadores

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Sportivo Luqueño

2014 Apertura: 8th
2014 Clausura: 4th

A brilliant 2nd half of the year saw the Kuré (Pigs) fly up the accumulative table and into the 2015 Copa Sudamericana draw. Pablo Caballero will surely look to find his best team for that competition during the Apertura but he will be wary of keeping the 2014 Clausura momentum going. Ex-Olimpia Esteban Ramirez was the marquee signing for Luque but they’ve also snaffled Diego Centurión who played some of his best football under Caballero at Guaraní. The other two main signings are Jorge Ortega and Marcelo Baéz.

One to Watch: Luis Miño is a very talented midfielder and impressed last year pulling strings in the middle

Prediction: Knocking around 4th again

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Sol de América

2014 Apertura: 5th
2014 Clausura: 9th

A poor Clausura campaign has left Sol hanging just above relegation so the board of directors have given Mario Jacquet everything he’s asked for in terms of new players. Juan Pablo Raponi is going to add creativity and is just one of several eye-catching attacking signings including Hugo Lusardi and Nelson Romero. José Domingo Salcedo adds experience and will look to guide young talents like Teodoro Paredes a central defender who shined at U20s but couldn’t break into the Cerro first team. Other signings include Arnaldo Pereira, Arnaldo Recalde, César Coronel and Cristian Martínez.  The icing on the cake will be Santiago Salcedo who is trying to arrange a move away from Banfield to join his brother.

One to Watch: Lorenzo Frutos is a speedy striker who has been unsettled by injuries, if he gets a run with the new supporting cast of Raponi, Lusardi et al he will be a serious threat

Prediction: Mid-table

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Best of the rest

Deportivo Capiatá and General Díaz will look to maintain their solid form to allow to enjoy the Clausura without the threat of relegation, barring any major surprises both will be fine and will probably occupy mid-table once again. Rubio Ñu are in big trouble and if either one of the newly promoted sides perform well they could return to the Intermedia after winning promotion in 2008. Deportivo Santaní and Sportivo San Lorenzo are the new additions to Primera – Santaní is situated some 150 km from Asunción and are in the top tier for the first time. San Lorenzo, like Capiatá, is a populous commuter town so will have good support during their home games. Their prize signing is surely Matías Perez the 20-year-old central defender who joins from Sporting Lisbon.

 

 

By Ralph Hannah

Clausura Week 9: Cerro Porteño vs Sportivo Luqueño preview

Cerro Porteño vs Sportivo Luqueño
La Olla, Asunción
20/09/2014; 17:10 (22:10 BST)
TV: Tigo Sports (Paraguay)

Leo Astrada returns to La Olla having had to coach three consecutive away games with Cerro Porteño in his second spell at the Barrio Obrero club. They face a Sportivo Luqueño side that has continued to do well under Daniel Navarro following Eduardo Rivera’s resignation. In fact the auriazul head into this clash with just one defeat in 14 (to leaders Guarani) and are ahead of Cerro in the table.

Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño - prensa

Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño – prensa

While Arce didn’t want to rest players in the league, Leo Astrada has a history of favouring continental tournaments over domestic so some first teamers players will step aside today. Youngster Bruno Valdez will play alongside Mareco at centre-back while Oviedo and Oscar Romero are set to watch from the bench. Iván Torres and Sergio Díaz are likely starters.

Veteran Brazilian Rodrigo Teixeira and Argentina Guido Di Vanni are likely to play up front, filling Luque’s foreigners quota. Navarro usually plays with three strikers so either Derlis Alegre or Marcelo Ferreira will fill the remaining spot. Midfielder Luis Miño has been making the side tick so far, the 25-year-old has a good range of passing and is dangerous from far out. Cristhian Aguada the left-sided player is exciting to watch, the 21-year-old full back he likes to get forward and scored the equalizer from the bench against Olimpia earlier in the season – could he do the same today?

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Carlos Bonet, Bruno Valdez, Victor Hugo Mareco, Junior Alonso; Mauricio Sperduti, Miguel Paniagua, Julio Dos Santos, Iván Torres; José Ortigoza, Sergio Díaz

Luqueño XI (probable): Rodolfo Rodriguez; Mario Saldívar, Carlos Rolón, José Leguizamón, Sergio Vergara; Miguel Godoy, Luis Miño, Lorenzo del Valle; Derlis Alegre, Rodrigo Teixeira, Guido di Vanni.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Paraguay vs UAE friendly preview

Paraguay vs United Arab Emirates
Stadion Villach Lind, Klagenfurt, Austria
07/09/2014; 12:30 (18:30 CET)
TV: Telefuturo (Paraguay)

 

Paraguay play their fourth friendly of the year in the Austrian town of Villach where they take on United Arab Emirates. It is their first game against AFC opposition since 2010 when they thrashed Hong Kong 7-0, that day Roque Santa Cruz scored twice and the Malaga striker is set to win his 100th cap for the Albirroja on Sunday. Santa Cruz will become just the 6th player to reach a centenary of Paraguay caps equalling Denis Caniza and Roberto Acuña and he is just three behind goalkeeper Justo Villar. Defenders Carlos Gamarra (110) and Paulo Da Silva (116) are in 2nd and 1st place respectively.

Training in Austria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

Training in Austria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

This is Paraguay’s first game against UAE, currently ranked 65th in the world (one place above Ireland) and coached by Mahdi Ali who won the Gulf Cup of Nations last year as they beat Iraq in the final in extra time. They sound like fairly stiff opposition currently on the run of their lives, as Wael Jabir tells me on Twitter “They went unbeaten for 20 games from 2012 – 2014 with a peak FIFA ranking of 58 in February” and there is no doubt who the star player is “Omar Abdulrahman…search his name on YouTube” says Abdulraham Almheiri (so I did) while @aeody has taken to calling him “Maestro Omar Abdulrahman” such is the 21-year-old’s obvious talent.

Of course the current Paraguayan crop have their fair share of exciting attacking talent – Tonny Sanabria of Roma is being groomed for next year’s qualifiers and he is likely to be flanked by FC Basel’s Derlis Gonzalez and Cerro Porteño’s Oscar Romero in a fluid trident behind the target man Roque. In central defence Pablo Aguilar of Club América is looking like the new leader and he could well be handed the armband once Santa Cruz steps aside, he’ll partner youngster Gustavo Gómez again with a view to the qualifiers after the 2015 Copa América. Victor Genes has given Copa Libertadores winner Nestor Ortigoza a 2nd chance, the big man in midfield needs those around him to do the leg work but he will surely find the runs of the flying youngsters like Derlis Gonzalez and Sanabria time and again.

 

L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

 

Paraguay XI (possible): Joel Silva; Jorge Moreira, Gustavo Gómez, Pablo Aguilar, Junior Alonso; Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Ortigoza; Derlis Gonzalez, Tonny Sanabria, Óscar Romero; Roque Santa Cruz

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: I like BTTS knowing that Paraguay are always good for a goal but UAE seem to have a bit of flair themselves and will look to play offensively

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Stats and Trivia

Paraguay vs AFC opposition

Pld 33 W 11 D 16 L 6 GF 39 GA 23

Paraguay in Austria

Pld 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 GF 3 GA 1 

Paraguay beat Georgia and Cameroon at neutral venues in 2006 and 2014 and played a goalless draw with Austria in Vienna in 2007.

Paraguay last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 6 GA 7

UAE last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 3 L 1 GF 6 GA 6

 

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Brian Montenegro set for return to England and Leeds United

Brian Montenegro is only 21 but he’s already done the rounds locally having played for Tacuary, Rubio Ñu and more recently winning the league with Libertad and finishing Copa Libertadores runner-up with Nacional. He also had a spell with West Ham a couple of years ago and although he only played 12 minutes with the senior team in the FA Cup he did manage 12 goals in 12 games for the reserves.

Montenegro Full Name: Brian Guillermo Montenegro

 D.o.B: 10 June 1993

 Place of Birth: Asunción, Paraguay

 Height: 1.81 metres

 Weight: 75 kg

 Position: Striker/Left winger

Hardly blessed with pace but he makes up for it with excellent movement, a very tactically disciplined player which is probably why English clubs have shown more interest in him than other forwards from the 2013 U20s World Cup squad. His versatility is an asset, he can play up top usually in a two off a more physical striker or he can be used in a front three on the left hand side and is a provider of goals as much as he is a poacher.

He may have been a bit raw at West Ham but he’s now played in important matches and scored at the highest level in South America, the Copa Libertadores. Most recently he scored in the semi-final for Nacional against Defensor Sporting on their run to the final. Last year for Libertad he also managed two goals during their Copa Sudamericana campaign reaching the the semi finals. However, my favourite Montenegro goal is his spectacular bicycle kick at the U20s World Cup against Greece – LUFC fans could be enjoying more of this before Christmas!

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Squad confirmed for Ukraine and UAE friendlies

Paraguay will travel to Europe for a possible friendly with Ukraine on 3rd September followed by a match on the 7th against UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Villach, Austria. The game against Ukraine was scheduled to be in Kiev but due to the Paraguayan FA concerns current political crisis the venue is expected to be moved or the game will be cancelled. It seems Paraguay simply can’t organize a friendly (in 2012 they ended up playing Guatemala four times for lack of other opponents!).

While the squad has a very “fresh” look with plenty of youngsters involved the major talking points are over three of the more experienced players. Roque Santa Cruz will win his 100th cap against Ukraine and this could be the perfect time to bow out, although he remains one of Paraguay’s best strikers in terms of recent international form. Nestor Ortigoza has been recalled for the first time since the 2011 Copa América final having been frozen out by Gerardo Martino’s successors. Finally, the fantastic central defender Pablo Aguilar is back, he was only left out of recent games because of an illogical medical report that claimed his low platelet count was a health risk. Winning the league with Xolos (who were fully aware of his genetic condition) and his subsequent splendid start with Club América in Mexico seems to have made the APF medical staff finally come to their senses.

ParaguaySquad

In terms of the domestic-based players there are call ups for Joel Silva who has been playing well for table-topping Guaraní while Oscar Romero is a shoe-in being the best young player in the country at the moment. Nacional’s run to the Copa Libertadores final has rewarded midfielder Silvio Torales and defenders Ramón Coronel and Leonardo Cáceres with call-ups.

FULL SQUAD LIST

Goalkeepers: Joel Silva (Guaraní), Anthony Silva (3 de Febrero)

Defenders: Pablo Aguilar (América, Mexico), Gustavo Gómez (Lanús, Argentina), Junior Alonso (Cerro Porteño), Jorge Moreira (Libertad), Ramón Coronel (Nacional); Leonardo Cáceres (Nacional)

Midfielders: Victor Cáceres (Flamengo, Brazil), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Jorge Rojas (Gimnasia LP, Argentina), Silvio Torales (Nacional), Oscar Romero (Cerro Porteño), David Mendieta (3 de Febrero), Miguel Paniagua (Cerro Porteño)

Attackers: Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga), Derlis Gonzalez (FC Basel), Jorge Benítez (Olympiakos), Antonio Sanabria (Roma)

 

 

By Ralph Hannah

Clausura 2014 Week 5: Cerro Porteño vs Guarani preview

Cerro Porteño vs Guaraní
La Olla, Asunción
23/08/2014; 18:30 (23:30 BST)
TV: Tigo Sports (Paraguay)

The biggest game of the fledgeling season, table-toppers Guarani could be pegged back by their hosts Cerro Porteño one of a four-strong chasing pack. Cerro return to La Olla after a successful midweek excursion to Montevideo in the Sudamericana, they have now kept four straight cleansheets as Chiqui Arce’s side begin to click into gear. The aurinegro like their rivals have no trouble finding the net, although a repeat of the 5-5 draw in their previous meeting might be a bit too optimistic.

CerroGuara

The Azulgrana can’t afford to rest players as the league is important for qualification into the 2015 Libertadores, with that in mind Arce will play his strongest team and hopes to welcome back Dani Guiza from injury. The main decision is who he plays as his designated U20s player – either Junior Alonso or José Ortigoza will have to make way for Carlos Montiel or Sergio Diaz respectively, my money is on the former. One of the key players today will be central defender Danilo Ortiz who will have to out muscle Federico Santander, not an easy task.

Jubero will want his team to attack, it is afterall his best form of defence with the aformentioned Santander forming a great partnership with Fernando Fernandez as the youngster almost seems to steal space to always find himself on the end of a flick or cross. Adilson Lezcano had a strong game at right back last week, his pace could help the side on the break although he is likely to find himself pegged back by Cerro’s Oscar Romero. Iván Gonzalez Ferreira is a fantastic player and will look to cause problems by running at the defence, cutting in and shooting from distance – he’ll be a thorn in Cerro’s side all afternoon that’s for sure.

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Carlos Bonet, Bruno Valdez, Danilo Ortiz, Carlos Montiel; Mauricio Sperduti, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Oscar Romero; José Ortigoza, Dani Guiza

Guaraní XI (probable): Joel Silva; Adilson Lezcano, Julio César Cáceres, Luis Cabral, Edgar Aranda; Dario Ocampo, Marcelo Palau, Juan Aguilar, Iván Gónzalez Ferreira; Federico Santander, Fernando Fernandez

There is a live market of this game available on Betfair

 

By Ralph Hannah