Paraguay vs Colombia
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
03/02/2013; 21:15 (23:15 GMT)
Paraguay will be champions of South America for only the second time in their history if they can avoid defeat against Colombia. If they were to lose that would hand the title to the cafeteros who are one point behind the albirrojita. This tournament has taken on beautiful symmetry with this final game a repeat of the opener, one that Colombia triumphed in thanks to a defensive error. Victor Genes’ side have improved immensley since that meeting and tonight is sure to be an intriguing contest.
Throughout the tournmanet the team has been reliant on set pieces, the last three goals have all come from dead ball situations and while Paraguay’s three goals in their previous three games might seem meagre for a team so close to the championship it is worth noting that Colombia have only scored twice in the last 270 minutes of football. With that in mind we shouldn’t expect a lot of goals regardless of the offensive talent on display in the form of Derlis Gonzalez, Jorge Rojas and on the other side Juan Quintero and Jhon Cordoba.
We have seen such a tactically astute tournament from Paraguay who have played to their strengths, the aforementioned set pieces and also the counter attack owing to the speed of their attacking players. While defensively they have seamlessly changed from a back four to a back three with the former reportedly preferred for tonight’s encounter.
Whatever the result it has been a wonderful tournament for Paraguay who were going through a lean period at this level, qualifying just once (2009) in the last four World Cups. That was a huge contrast to the ‘golden period’ (1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003) when the side qualified for four consecutive U20s World Cups even finishing fourth in the 2001 edition and winning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. Let’s just hope they can out-do even that crop of players and take the trophy home for the first time in 42 years.
Paraguay XI (possible): Diego Morel; Miller Mareco, Gustavo Gómez, Matías Perez, Manu Balbuena; Jorge Rojas, Angel Lucena, Miguel Almiron, Rodrigo Alborno; Derlis Gonzalez, Cecilio Dominguez
Prediction: Not many goals, a tight match, 1-0 to Paraguay
By Ralph Hannah