Paraguay vs Colombia
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
(0-1) 0-1 – Jhonny Cordoba
Paraguay’s opening match ended in a painful defeat for the side that had gone into the game with high hopes of securing a victory. The albirrojito started very well in the opening exchanges, Derlis Gonzalez and Jorge Rojas were unsettling the Colombian backline while Rodrigo Alborno was orchestrating things in the final third.
But the risky move of Víctor Genes to throw in his youngest squad member, Gustavo Viera, into central midfield along with his Rubio Ñu teammate Angel Lucena didn’t pay off. They found it hard to control possession and couldn’t keep tabs on the excellent Juan Pablo Nieto who was a constant threat. Jhonny Cordoba was strong and pacey up front but was well marshalled by Paraguay’s captain Gustavo Gómez who had an excellent game bar one fatal mistake after 34 minutes. His Libertad teammate Diego Morel gave him a short pass from a goal kick and Gomez was closed down quickly and his attempted clearance fell to another Colombian player who found the dangerous Cordoba. The Cafetero number 9 spun Gomez and finished well by the right post. Cordoba should have killed the game off before halftime, another good attacking move ended in his astonishing miss from a few yards out.
The second half was more open and again Genes surprised me with his substitutions, the two foreign-based players Derlis Gonzalez and Rodrigo Alborno were replaced by Juan Villamayor and Miguel Almirón, possibly deciding to rest his star players with so many games in a short space of time. Towards the end of the game Villmayor had a good chance from a freekick that was cleared off the line by a Colombian defender, then Paraguay were denied by another goalline clearance from a Gómez header. In an incredible flurry of activity they had a third chance from a dead ball but again couldn’t find the finishing touch.
The defeat was a blow for Paraguay, the defensive error can happen at any level (as we’d seen hours before with Branislav Ivanovic) but the more worrying elements of the game was the albirrojita’s inability to win the ball in central midfield and lack of options in the final third. Also, with such a strong physical presence at set pieces it was disappointing they were unable to cause more problems at free kicks and corners. Next up is Argentina on Friday 11th, who also suffered defeat in their first game.
Paraguay XI: Diego Morel; Teodoro Paredes, Gustavo Gómez, Matias Perez, Junior Alonso; Jorge Rojas, Angel Lucena, Gustavo Viera, Rodrigo Alborno; Cecilio Dominguez, Derlis Gonzalez
Subs: Juan Villamayor for Derlis Gonzalez; Miguel Almirón for Rodrigo Alborno; Bryan Montenegro for Gustavo Viera
By Ralph Hannah