Guatemala vs Paraguay
Robert F.Kennedy Memorial Stadium
15/08/2012, 18.15 hs (23.15 hs BST)
For the third time this year Paraguay and Guatemala go head-to-head in an international friendly, the first game in Luque was won 2-1 by the albirroja with the ‘2nd leg’ in the Guatemala City also a victory for the South Americans. Now they meet on neutral ground, in Washington DC, in a game that represents Gerardo Pelusso’s first chance to look at his players.
At Olimpia the Uruguayan coach usually lined his team up in a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 formation but with the national team recently there has been a problem scoring goals, Martino managed an average of 1.1 goals per game and while Chiqui Arce increased that return to 1.4 in his 12 official games it was heavily reliant on goals from set pieces and penalties. With that in mind Pelusso has looked to the recently-nationalized Jonathan Fabbro who will make his international debut aged 30. While some readers may be more aware of his girlfriend (strongly advise male readers to click this link) the Argentinian native who has taken Paraguayan nationality having lived here for five years is a class act. He isn’t a traditional South American playmaker, he’s too tall (1.88 metres) and strong and has more defensive ability than a typical ’10’, but he can’t be considered a striker either as he rarely finds himself in the penalty area. Undoubtedly his great strengths are shots from distance and vicious free kicks but he needs to get the best out the striker he plays with, most likely to be Oscar Cardozo with Lucas Barrios (injury) and Nelson Haedo (given leave to sign for Valencia) unavailable.
In the previous two meetings with Guatemala it is clear that Paraguayan coach Ever Almeida are well organised and comfortable in possession but lack any killer punch. The conduit is Marco Pappa in midfield who plays in the United States and scored a late equaliser against USMNT in their previous competitive game. La Albirroja have successfully neutralised his threat the past two games and it is likely they’ll be able to do so again and win this game to nil.
PREDICTION: Paraguay are too good on paper and will want to impress their new coach, 0-2
SELECTED ODDS: Guatemala win 7.4, Draw 5.2, Paraguay win 1.39, Under 2.5 goals 2.08, 0-2 scoreline 6.8
BEST BET: Not much value in the win, one possibility is ‘Paraguay win to nil’ or maybe spread the final score market with 0-1, 0-2 and 0-3 all possibilities
Paraguay XI probable (4-2-3-1)
Justo Villar; Dario Verón, Antolin Alcaraz, Paulo Da Silva, Richard Ortiz; Víctor Cáceres, Cristian Riveros; Hernan Perez, Jonathan Fabbro, Marcelo Estigarribia; Oscar Cardozo
Paraguay record vs Guatemala: Pld 8 W 7 D 1 L 0 GF 17 GA 6
Paraguay in the United States (since 2005): Pld 5 W 1 D 0 L 4 GF 5 GA 11 – their only win came against the USA
Time of first Paraguay goal in last five games: 82, 6, 88, 34, 44
Paraguay have kept NINE cleansheets in their previous ELEVEN friendlies
Full Squad list
GK: Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño), Antony Silva (Tolima), Justo Villar (Estudiantes)
DEF: Paulo Da Silva (Pachuca), Darío Verón (Pumas), Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Carlos Bonet (Cerro Porteño), Miguel Samudio (Libertad), Richard Ortiz (Olimpia)
MID: Víctor Cáceres (Flamengo), Hernán Pérez (Villarreal), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor), Marcelo Estigarribia (Sampdoria), Osvaldo Martínez (Atlante), Julio Dos Santos (Cerro Porteño), Marcos Riveros (Nacional), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño)
ATT: Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City), Óscar Cardozo (Benfica), Edgar Benítez (Toluca)
** Nelson Haedo (Valencia) and Lucas Barrios (Guangzhou Evergrande) were called up but subsequently pulled out
By Ralph Hannah
Authors Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair