Victor Genes did a wonderful job to guide Paraguay to 2nd place in the Sudamericano and almost won the tournament something they have only done once in 1971. The core of the team that did so well remains with some serious firepower added up front – Claudio Correa of Benfica joins Tonny Sanabria of Barcelona who did so well for the U17s he has been moved up an age group to try and bring glory in Turkey. Here we breakdown the squad to look at the strengths and weaknesses of this side. Group Fixtures and the full squad list are at the bottom.
Defence: Other than the two goals conceded in the last game against Colombia, the defence stood firm when the going got tough in the final round of the Sudamericano. Since January the three Cerro Porteño players have been involved in the first team with Teodoro Paredes considered a starter. The goalscoring centre-back Matias Perez wasn’t a mainstay with champions Nacional but has proved he is still a danger from set pieces scoring in the warm up game against Croatia. Gustavo Gómez has been used a lot by Libertad coach Ruben Israel. There is no doubt this defensive unit is even stronger than six months ago.
Midfield: Defensive midfield might be the weak link here, Iván Ramirez is excellent in a man-marking role (just ask Argentina´s Ricardo Centurión) but could struggle when asked to cover a wider area. Rubio Ñu duo Gustavo Viera and Angel Cardozo Lucena did seem to show signs of tiredness towards the end of the competition although they’ve seen more first team action now and maybe more suited to the rigours of football at this level. Looking further up the field and there are no worries in the shape of Miguel Almirón a wonderfully gifted footballer with all the makings of a top playmaker, he has come on as a substitute for Jonathan Fabbro several times at Cerro and made an impact when he scored his first senior goal, the winner, against Rubio Ñu in April.
Forwards: Oh wow. If you haven´t seen these boys before you are in for a treat. The front three is likely to be Benfica’s future signing Jorge Rojas on the right, Benfica’s existing signing Derlis Gonzalez on the left and Barcelona’s Tonny Sanabria down the middle. Rojas offers frightening pace while Derlis Gonzalez brings his skill and finishing touch to the albirrojita. As for Sanabria he is all of that combined, a really fantastic player who showed plenty of the talent that has made him the toast of La Masia, here is his double against Argentina in case you are in any doubt. Then there is the bench, another Benfica man Claudio Correa is a powerful striker as his nickname “Ogro” (ogre) might suggest, another man really pushing for a start is Cecilio Dominguez, he had three goals in four games for Sol de América and then popped up with the winner against Turkey in the recent friendly. The other striker is Brian Montenegro who can play on the left-hand side too, he is currently at Rubio Ñu but did have a spell at the West Ham academy last year.
Notable Absentees: Rodrigo Alborno of Inter Milan is injured, while Porto´s Maurito Caballero is still the victim of internal politics at the APF. It is a shame neither were on the plane to Turkey.
22 June vs Mali Kamil Ocak Stadium, Gaziantep (21:00 local time, 14:00 Paraguay time)
25 June vs Mexico Kamil Ocak Stadium, Gaziantep (18:00 local time, 11:00 Paraguay time)
28 June vs Greece Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium, Trabzon (18:00 local time, 11:00 Paraguay time)
Full Squad List
Goalkeepers (3): Diego Morel (Libertad), Armando Vera (Libertad), Alejandro Bogado (Guaraní).
Defenders (7): Miller Mareco (Rubio Ñu), Teodoro Paredes (Cerro Porteño), Junior Alonso (Cerro Porteño), Gustavo Gómez (Libertad), Aquilino Giménez (Olimpia), Jorge “Manu” Balbuena (Cerro Porteño), Matías Pérez (Nacional)
Midfielders (7): Iván Ramírez (Libertad), Ángel Cardozo Lucena (Rubio Ñu), Robert Piris Da Motta (Rubio Ñu), Miguel Almirón (Cerro Porteño) , Gustavo Viera (Rubio Ñu), Juan Villamayor (Libertad)
Forwards (5): Brian Montenegro (Rubio Ñu), Claudio Correa (Benfica), Arnaldo Antonio “Tonny” Sanabria (FC Barcelona), Derlis González (Benfica), Cecilio Domínguez (Sol de América), Jorge Rojas (Benfica)