Paraguay vs Panama
Estadio General Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
29/02/12, 20.30 hs (23.30 hs GMT)
Paraguay take on a Central American side time for the fourth time under Chiqui Arce’s reign, it is the second time the new coach has faced Panama having debuted with a win against them back in September. That day Oscar Cardozo and Robin Ramirez got the goals, neither striker has been called up to the current squad, full of domestic-based players with one eye on the World Cup Qualifier in La Paz just over three months away.
The European stars are happy to be back in the warmth, Nelson Haedo Valdez of Rubin Kazan in Russia noted on local radio earlier today “It is so cold even your snot freezes”. The idea will be to build on the solid victories against Chile and Guatemala with the introduction of established players, like captain Justo Villar who makes the short trip from La Plata, Argentina. Don’t expect much change tactically from Chiqui Arce, he is trying to impose his style onto a group of players and wants to keep drumming into them the virtues of possession and patient build up in a 4-4-2.
The starting eleven is all but confirmed (see below) the only doubt being a choice between Lucas Barrios or Haedo Valdez, the Dortmund striker only arrived on Tuesday morning and will be assessed on the day of the game. The back four is balanced, Libertad duo Carlos Bonet and Miguel Samudio will offer something going forward but are accomplished defensively. In midfield expect Victor ‘Topo’ Caceres to sit in the middle while Cristian Riveros is more box-to-box and will go chasing the ball and try to get in the box if the situation allows. Osvaldo Martinez is back in the fold having started the season well with Atlante in Mexico and he will be the creative spark, trying to provide fodder for the two strikers.
Ultimately, like the previous game against Guatemala, Paraguay are expected to win and win with ease. They played well against Guatemala, were organised, kept possession and despite the scoreline (2-1) never looked uncomfortable. Here’s hoping for more of hte same on Wednesday night.
Paraguay XI (probable) vs Panama: J.Villar; C.Bonet, P.Da Silva, A.Alcaraz, M.Samudio; O.Martínez, V.Cáceres, C.Riveros, J.Mendoza; J. Ortigoza, N.Haedo Valdez
SELECTED ODDS: Paraguay win 1.29, Draw 6.0, Panama win 16.0; 2-0 scoreline 6.4; Paraguay/Paraguay 1.85; Under 2.5 Goals 2.24
BEST BET: The Paraguay/Paraguay bet worked a treat against Guatemala and it would be my option here with the outright win offering little value
Head-to-Head vs Panama
Pld 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 GF 4 GA 1 – both friendlies in 2003 and 2011
Paraguay Last 6 Home
Pld 6 W 4 D 2 L 0 GF 9 GA 3
Pld 6 W 5 D 0 L 1 GF 14 GA 4
Panama Last 6 Away
GK: Justo Villar (Estudiantes de La Plata), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño), Joel Silva (Guaraní)
DEF: Paulo Da Silva (Zaragoza), Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic), Carlos Bonet (Libertad), Miguel Samudio (Libertad), Tomás Bartomeus (Guaraní), Pablo Aguilar (Sportivo Luqueño), Julio Manzur (Guaraní)
MID: Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Víctor Cáceres (Libertad), Osvaldo Martínez (Monterrey), Víctor Ayala (Libertad), Reinaldo Ocampo (Sol de América), Jorge Mendoza (Guaraní) y Eric Ramos (Rubio Ñu)
ATT: Nelson Haedo (Rubin Kazán), Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund), Edgar Benítez (Cerro Porteño), José Ortigoza (Sol de América), Rodolfo Gamarra (Libertad)
By Ralph Hannah
Author’s Note: All odds supplied by Betfair Sports and up to date at time of writing