Paraguay vs Venezuela
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
11/09/2012, 19.25 hs (00:25 BST)
A recent poll on a Paraguayan sports website asked if this game was ‘Win or Bust’ for the albirroja with 90% of voters responding ‘Yes’. The opponents are equally motivated following last year’s Copa América semi-final defeat on penalties as they look to score their first ever goal against Paraguay in the Defensores del Chaco. It promises to be a hard-fought game between two sides on a three game winless run in the qualifiers and looking to turn things round.
Paraguay weren’t good enough against Argentina but their display was better than the lacklustre performaces previously against Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Under Pelusso they looked more like a Martino team, pressing hard and trying to recover the ball as quick as possible. Against Venezuela they will need to keep the ball better when they do get possession, something which full back Ivan Piris indicated in the recent press conference. With that in mind Pelusso is going for some drastic changes and is expected to play with three at the back to have more bodies in midfield. While Jonathan Fabbro will be the link between midfield and attack the support from the wingbacks is expected to come from Miguel Samudio and Carlos Bonet who both ply their trade in the local league. Up front Roque is expected to make way for Haedo (assuming he shrugs off a niggle) and he will probably partner Oscar Cardozo.
Venezuela, like Paraguay, have struggled for goals from open play – four of their five strikes have been via set pieces and come into this game knowing that they are on a depressingly familiar course. In the 2010 qualifiers a promising start was ended by a five game winless run that they couldn’t recover from. It began with a 1-1 draw to Uruguay followed by a reverse on home soil to Chile, and away defeats to Peru, Paraguay before losing at home to Brazil. In the last three qualifiers they have drawn 1-1 with Uruguay and been beaten in the subsequent games against Chile and Peru, the vinotinto must be feeling a sense of déjà vu.
Prediction: Paraguay are leaking goals under Pelusso and going to three at the back probably won’t help stability, having said that I can’t see the albirroja failing to win at home, 3-2
Paraguay XI (possible): Justo Villar; Dario Verón, Paulo Da Silva, Antolin Alcaraz; Carlos Bonet, Víctor Cáceres, Cristian Riveros, Miguel Samudio; Jonathan Fabbro; Nelson Haedo, Oscar Cardozo
SELECTED ODDS: Paraguay win 1.61; Draw 4.0; Venezuela 7.2; 3-2 scoreline 36.0; Over 2.5 goals 2.08
BEST BET: The BTTS (Both Teams to Score) bet worked against Argentina and looks decent again at just over evens, especially considering the shaky defences
STATS AND TRIVIA
Venezuela have only scored two goals on Paraguayan soil both in Ciudad del Este, one in a friendly vs Paraguay and one in a 3-1 Copa America defeat to Mexico.
Paraguay vs Venezuela Head-to-Head (World Cup Qualifiers)
Pld 10 W 9 D 0 L 1 GF 16 GA 4
There is a whole blog post dedicated to stats which you can check out here.
PARAGUAY FULL SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Estudiantes LP), Antony Silva (Dep. Tolima), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño)
Defenders: Paulo Da Silva (Pachuca), Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic), Darío Verón (Pumas), Carlos Bonet (Cerro Porteño), Iván Piris (Roma), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Miguel Samudio (Libertad), Richard Ortiz (Olimpia), Salustiano Candia (Olimpia)
Midfielders: Víctor Cáceres (Flamengo), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor), Hernán Pérez (Villarreal), Víctor Ayala (Lanus), Marcelo Estigarribia (Sampdoria), Julio Dos Santos (Cerro Porteño), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño)
Strikers: Roque Santa Cruz (Málaga), Nelson Haedo (Valencia), Óscar Cardozo (Benfica), Édgar Benítez (Toluca), Luis Nery Caballero (Krylya Sovetov Samara)