Paraguay National Team: The Ramón Díaz era begins with Costa Rica & Mexico friendlies

Finally Paraguay have a full time manager in Ramón Díaz and he takes charge of his first game on 26 March in San José against Costa Rica in an international friendly. That game is followed by a friendly in Kansas against Mexico as Paraguay look ahead to the Copa América in June.

The squad is significantly different from Victor Genes’ call ups last year against Peru, Díaz has recalled players and put his faith in foreign-based stars over the domestic-based players. He has even nationalized a new striker – Raúl Bobadilla of Augsburg – to confirm that revolution is here. Or is it?

Ramón Díaz speaks to all-time topscorer Roque Santa Cruz - Photo: APF

Ramón Díaz speaks to all-time topscorer Roque Santa Cruz – Photo: APF

The average age of the squad is 27.5 years old which in theory sounds like it is made up of players at their peak but there are 7 players aged 30 or over who, barring Justo Villar, had been written off at the last Copa América. The recalls for Lucas Barrios, Paulo Da Silva and Marcos Cáceres suggest that Díaz isn’t convinced by the new crop of players and he feels he has a very small talent pool to work with.

There is another theory, that the call ups of these veterans is more to guide the younger generation – exciting players such as Gustavo Gómez, Jorge Rojas and Oscar Romero are all in the team and they will benefit from the older hands. Also it might be “horses for courses” with 7 Mexico-based players being called up possibly for their insider knowledge on “El Tri”.

The Mexican connection, Paraguay's Mexican-based players. Photo: APF

The Mexican connection, Paraguay’s Mexican-based players. Photo: APF

The friendlies are challenging in themselves, the Albirroja have yet to beat World Cup Quarter-Finalists Costa Rica in San José in four attempts, with one draw and three defeats in their previous meetings. Just last year they fell 2-1 to the Ticos with central defender Gustavo Gómez grabbing the only goal.

Their record against Mexico isn’t great on US soil, they’ve played four times and won just once in Chicago in 1999, since then a draw and two consecutive defeats. Their last win against Mexico was a friendly in Mexico City in 2007 through an Oscar Cardozo strike, but later that year in the Copa América they were thrashed 6-0 and in their most recent game in 2011 they lost 3-1.

It is a tough start for Ramón Díaz but the squad selection suggests he is looking for results rather than blood youngsters.

FULL SQUAD

ParaguaySquad

Sudamericano 2015: Paraguay Squad Preview

Victor Genes has named his 23-man squad for the 2015 Sudamericano in Uruguay that starts next week. Genes guided the previous group of players to the runners-up spot in 2013 and the World Cup. This year not only a place in the 2015 World Cup is up for grabs but a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Here we look at six key players who will be crucial to the Albirrojita’s chances, they kick off on 14th January against Bolivia, full list of fixtures at the bottom of the post.

DEFENCE 

Iván Cañete

Iván Cañete

Club: Atlético Madrid

D.o.B: 22 April 1995

Place of Birth: Luque

Height: 185 cm

Weight: 78 kg

Position: Central defender

The defender moved to Spain aged 12 and was at Rayo Vallecano at U-14 level and the first half of the U-15 season before moving to the Colchoneros. He describes himself as good on the ball and an excellent communicator so he will be expected to organize the defence and try to bring some stability while under pressure. Having been learning from Miranda and Godín over the last couple of years he should be one of the most accomplished defenders on show in Uruguay.

MIDFIELD

Jesús Medina

JesusMedina

Club: Libertad

D.o.B: 30 April 1997

Place of Birth: Limpio

Height: 179 cm

Weight: 67 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

The 17-year-old has been fast-tracked into the U20s because of his enormous talent, the midfielder made his debut in Primera in 2012 aged just 15 and his performances during the U17s Sudamericano in 2013 even saw him linked with a move to PSG. He’s great on the ball, quick feet and a great left foot that can create and score goals. He is likely to be used as an impact sub but expect that impact to be felt.

Jeremías Bogado

JeremiasBogado

Club: Olimpia

D.o.B: 04 July 1995

Place of Birth: Limpio

Height: 172 cm

Weight: 66 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

Bogado broke through into the senior side during the 2014 Apertura making his debut in March but he really came to the fore during the Clausura making 14 appearances and scoring his first senior goal against 3 de Febrero. He makes good runs into the box and will be looking to support his strikers at every opportunity.

Danilo Santacruz

DaniloSantacruzClub: Libertad

D.o.B: 12 June 1995

Place of Birth: Caaguazú

Height: 178 cm

Weight: 75 kg

Position: Attacking midfielder

Another product of the Libertad youth system he has made his presence felt at senior level already including a match winning performance against 12 de Octubre in the Clausura. He can run at players and get into the box and is likely to be one of key scoring threats alongside Díaz and Sanabria (see below)

ATTACK

Tonny Sanabria

Sanabria

Club: AS Roma, Italy

D.o.B: 04 March 1996

 Place of Birth: San Lorenzo 

Height: 180 cm

 Weight: 72 kg

 Position: Striker

 

The former La Masia man has had a stellar rise through the Paraguay ranks, in 2013 he played the U17s Sudamericano, the U20s World Cup that same year and weeks afterwards made his senior debut against Germany in Kaiserslautern. He’s yet to get much game time for the Roma senior side but is often in the matchday squad. That kind of experience should suit him at this level and expect him to be one of the stars of the tournament.

Sergio Díaz


SergioDiaz

Club: Cerro Porteño

D.o.B: 05 March 1998

Place of Birth: Itauguá

Height: 172 cm

Weight: 66 kg

Position: Forward

The diminuitive attacker is the youngest member of the squad but has more senior experience than most having played most of the Clausura in 2014. He managed 8 goals in the league as he formed a partnership with European Champion and Pichichi winner Dani Guiza. Díaz’s low centre of gravity and weaving runs in and around the box has drawn comparisons with Kun Aguero of Manchester City. Expect good things from one of the most exciting players to emerge from Paraguay in the last decade.

FIXTURE LIST

14 JAN vs Bolivia

16 JAN vs Argentina

20 JAN vs Ecuador

22 JAN vs Peru

Should Paraguay finish in the top 3 of this group (they are expected to) they’ll play the Hexagonal final from 26 Jan to 7 Feb with the Top 4 qualifying for the 2015 U20s World Cup, the winner also qualifies for the Olympics and the runner-up has a playoff for the Summer Games.

FULL SQUAD LIST

Goalkeepers: José Colmán (3 de Febrero), Miguel Mereles (Libertad), Tomás Echague (Sportivo Luqueño).

Defenders: Ariel Benítez (Guaraní), Iván Cañete (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Marcos González (Olimpia), Omar Alderete (Cerro Porteño), José Sanabria (Libertad), Juan Escobar (Sportivo Luqueño) & Saúl Salcedo (Olimpia).

Midfielders: Gustavo Viera (Corinthians, Brazil) Jesús Medina (Libertad), Jeremías Bogado (Olimpia), Roque Guachire (Libertad), Walter Araújo (Sol de América), Ángel Benítez (Libertad), Enrique Araújo (Nacional) & Danilo Santacruz (Libertad).

Forwards: Tonny Sanabria (Roma, Italy), Luis Amarilla (Libertad), Brahian Ayala (Rubio Ñu), Sergio Díaz (Cerro Porteño) & Walter González (Olimpia).

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Paraguay vs UAE friendly preview

Paraguay vs United Arab Emirates
Stadion Villach Lind, Klagenfurt, Austria
07/09/2014; 12:30 (18:30 CET)
TV: Telefuturo (Paraguay)

 

Paraguay play their fourth friendly of the year in the Austrian town of Villach where they take on United Arab Emirates. It is their first game against AFC opposition since 2010 when they thrashed Hong Kong 7-0, that day Roque Santa Cruz scored twice and the Malaga striker is set to win his 100th cap for the Albirroja on Sunday. Santa Cruz will become just the 6th player to reach a centenary of Paraguay caps equalling Denis Caniza and Roberto Acuña and he is just three behind goalkeeper Justo Villar. Defenders Carlos Gamarra (110) and Paulo Da Silva (116) are in 2nd and 1st place respectively.

Training in Austria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

Training in Austria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

This is Paraguay’s first game against UAE, currently ranked 65th in the world (one place above Ireland) and coached by Mahdi Ali who won the Gulf Cup of Nations last year as they beat Iraq in the final in extra time. They sound like fairly stiff opposition currently on the run of their lives, as Wael Jabir tells me on Twitter “They went unbeaten for 20 games from 2012 – 2014 with a peak FIFA ranking of 58 in February” and there is no doubt who the star player is “Omar Abdulrahman…search his name on YouTube” says Abdulraham Almheiri (so I did) while @aeody has taken to calling him “Maestro Omar Abdulrahman” such is the 21-year-old’s obvious talent.

Of course the current Paraguayan crop have their fair share of exciting attacking talent – Tonny Sanabria of Roma is being groomed for next year’s qualifiers and he is likely to be flanked by FC Basel’s Derlis Gonzalez and Cerro Porteño’s Oscar Romero in a fluid trident behind the target man Roque. In central defence Pablo Aguilar of Club América is looking like the new leader and he could well be handed the armband once Santa Cruz steps aside, he’ll partner youngster Gustavo Gómez again with a view to the qualifiers after the 2015 Copa América. Victor Genes has given Copa Libertadores winner Nestor Ortigoza a 2nd chance, the big man in midfield needs those around him to do the leg work but he will surely find the runs of the flying youngsters like Derlis Gonzalez and Sanabria time and again.

 

L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

 

Paraguay XI (possible): Joel Silva; Jorge Moreira, Gustavo Gómez, Pablo Aguilar, Junior Alonso; Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Ortigoza; Derlis Gonzalez, Tonny Sanabria, Óscar Romero; Roque Santa Cruz

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: I like BTTS knowing that Paraguay are always good for a goal but UAE seem to have a bit of flair themselves and will look to play offensively

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Stats and Trivia

Paraguay vs AFC opposition

Pld 33 W 11 D 16 L 6 GF 39 GA 23

Paraguay in Austria

Pld 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 GF 3 GA 1 

Paraguay beat Georgia and Cameroon at neutral venues in 2006 and 2014 and played a goalless draw with Austria in Vienna in 2007.

Paraguay last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 6 GA 7

UAE last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 3 L 1 GF 6 GA 6

 

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Squad confirmed for Ukraine and UAE friendlies

Paraguay will travel to Europe for a possible friendly with Ukraine on 3rd September followed by a match on the 7th against UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Villach, Austria. The game against Ukraine was scheduled to be in Kiev but due to the Paraguayan FA concerns current political crisis the venue is expected to be moved or the game will be cancelled. It seems Paraguay simply can’t organize a friendly (in 2012 they ended up playing Guatemala four times for lack of other opponents!).

While the squad has a very “fresh” look with plenty of youngsters involved the major talking points are over three of the more experienced players. Roque Santa Cruz will win his 100th cap against Ukraine and this could be the perfect time to bow out, although he remains one of Paraguay’s best strikers in terms of recent international form. Nestor Ortigoza has been recalled for the first time since the 2011 Copa América final having been frozen out by Gerardo Martino’s successors. Finally, the fantastic central defender Pablo Aguilar is back, he was only left out of recent games because of an illogical medical report that claimed his low platelet count was a health risk. Winning the league with Xolos (who were fully aware of his genetic condition) and his subsequent splendid start with Club América in Mexico seems to have made the APF medical staff finally come to their senses.

ParaguaySquad

In terms of the domestic-based players there are call ups for Joel Silva who has been playing well for table-topping Guaraní while Oscar Romero is a shoe-in being the best young player in the country at the moment. Nacional’s run to the Copa Libertadores final has rewarded midfielder Silvio Torales and defenders Ramón Coronel and Leonardo Cáceres with call-ups.

FULL SQUAD LIST

Goalkeepers: Joel Silva (Guaraní), Anthony Silva (3 de Febrero)

Defenders: Pablo Aguilar (América, Mexico), Gustavo Gómez (Lanús, Argentina), Junior Alonso (Cerro Porteño), Jorge Moreira (Libertad), Ramón Coronel (Nacional); Leonardo Cáceres (Nacional)

Midfielders: Victor Cáceres (Flamengo, Brazil), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Jorge Rojas (Gimnasia LP, Argentina), Silvio Torales (Nacional), Oscar Romero (Cerro Porteño), David Mendieta (3 de Febrero), Miguel Paniagua (Cerro Porteño)

Attackers: Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga), Derlis Gonzalez (FC Basel), Jorge Benítez (Olympiakos), Antonio Sanabria (Roma)

 

 

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay U17s reach the final of the Copa Mexico Naciones

Congratulations to the Albirrojita who have reached the final of the 2014 Copa Mexico Naciones – the Paraguay U17s beat their Brazilian counterparts 4-3 on penalties having drawn 1-1 in normal time. On Sunday 10th August they will face another South American rival, Ecuador, in the legendary Azteca Stadium hoping to bring the trophy back to Paraguay.

This tournament is much like a “mini” World Cup and in the case of the South American sides it acts as a perfect warm up ahead of the 2015 Sudamericano to be held in Paraguay in March, the Sudamericano is a qualifier for the FIFA U17s World Cup which will take place in Chile.

Photo: Copa Mexico de Naciones

Photo: Copa Mexico Naciones

ROAD TO THE FINAL

4-0 vs Mexico “2”  – Echague, C.Ferreira (2), Orué

1-1 vs China – Valiente

1-2 vs USA – Valiente

4-1 vs Portugal (QF)- Valiente (2), R.Ferreira, Villalba

1-1 vs Brazil (SF) – Morel **Paraguay won 4-3 on penalties

Paraguay celebrate their penalty shootout win over Brazil - Photo: Copa Mexico de Naciones

Paraguay celebrate their penalty shootout win over Brazil – Photo: Copa Mexico Naciones

================================

STARS

Jonathan Valiente of Libertad has scored four goals so far and looks an exciting prospect, strong on the ball and happy to shoot from distance, definitely worth scribbling him down in your notepad.

Oscar Meza the goalkeeper made the key save against Brazil in the penalty shootout and played well in that game looking unfruffled by the verdeamarelho. When not with the national team you will find him representing Sportivo Luqueño.

Aturo Aranda is the captain, like Valiente he plays for Libertad who boast the best youth system in the country and has been the heartbeat of the side.

================================

Good luck on Sunday!! Vamos Paraguay!!

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay U17s: Squad to participate in Copa Mexico de Naciones

The Albirrojita will participate in the 3rd Copa Mexico de Naciones from the 2nd of August which will act as a serious test before the 2015 Sudamericano to be held in Paraguay. The U17s find themselves in a tough group alongside neighbours Argentina, the USA and China.

Paraguay participated last year with an U15s side

Paraguay participated last year with an U15s side

This will be our first chance to take a look at these players who have been meeting in the high performance centre in Ypané for the last couple of months in preparation for this tournament. The full squad is as follows:

@prensaalbirroja

@prensaalbirroja

 

The opening game is on 2nd August at 10:00 am local time (11:00 am Paraguay time) versus  Argentina followed by China the next day at 12:00 noon local time before finishing on Monday 4th August with the match against the USA at 10:00 am.

Last year Paraguay reached the semi-finals and finished 4th after a penalty defeat to the USA, they’ll hope to go one better this time.

 

By Ralph Hannah

CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers: Paraguay vs Argentina preview

Paraguay vs Argentina
Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
10/09/2013; 21:40 hrs (02:40 hrs BST)
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifier
TV: SNT, Telefuturo (Paraguay)

The 97th meeting between Paraguay and Argentina takes place tonight in what is expected to be a packed Defensores del Chaco. What seems to be a new dawn for the Albirroja has come too late in the qualifying stages to propel them to Brazil (by the time of kick off it may not even be mathematically possible to reach the playoffs) but there is plenty of hope and interest in Victor Genes´ group of players. Argentina can secure direct qualification with a win, they also have a score to settle here in Asunción having lost the previous two qualifiers here.

Paraguay prepare for Argentina - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya de futbol

Paraguay prepare for Argentina – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya de futbol

Genes has done brilliantly in his opening two games to blend a mix of youngsters and experienced players and instil them all with confidence to play good football and not be afraid to keep possession. It was something that Arce couldn’t seem to instruct his players to do and something Pelusso didn’t really want his teams to do. Reports suggest he will go to a back four in this game with Samudio and Marcos Cáceres the full backs but maintaining a midfield three with Ortiz, Ayala and Riveros offering protection to the attacking trio of Jonathan Fabbro, Roque Santa Cruz and one other, possibly José Ariel Nuñez. The inclusion of Riveros is definitely a nod to the player’s experience in these important qualifiers. Roque had a superb game against Bolivia and has now scored in his last two qualifiers. In goal Roberto Fernandez could become the 48th player used in the qualification campaign.

Fabbro lines up against the country of his birth - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya de Futbol

Fabbro lines up against the country of his birth – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya de Futbol

Argentina are with Messi and Aguero up front which will cause plenty of problems, although Paraguay drew with Germany they conceded three and you would certainly align Argentina´s attacking talents with that of the Europeans. Da Silva and Candia are set to be tested consistently and it would be something of a miracle if they manage to keep a third straight cleansheet against Argentina in the Defensores del Chaco.

Paraguay XI (Possible): Roberto Fernández; Marcos Cáceres, Salustiano Candia, Paulo Da Silva, Miguel Samudio; Víctor Ayala, Cristian Riveros, Richard Ortiz; Jonathan Fabbro; Roque Santa Cruz, José Ariel Núñez

Argentina XI (Possible): Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Fabricio Coloccini, Hugo Campagnaro, José Basanta; Lucas Biglia, Fernando Gago, Ángel Di María; Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Rodrigo Palacio

Prediction: 1-1

SELECTED ODDS: Paraguay win 4.9, Draw 3.75, Argentina win 1.86; Under 2.5 Goals 1.98; BTTS 1.84

BEST BET: BTTS worked well last time and I can see Paraguay scoring (set piece Ayala assist probably) and it is unlikely they keep a cleansheet

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STATS AND TRIVIA

Argentina haven’t beaten Paraguay away in a world cup qualifier since 1997, for more history check out this post

Paraguay vs Argentina Head-to-Head (World Cup Qualifiers)

Pld 15 W 2 D 8 L 5 GF 12 GA 20

There is a whole blog post dedicated to stats which you can check out here it is only missing the previous qualifier which Argentina won 3-1

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PARAGUAY FULL SQUAD

Paraguay squad to play Bolivia and Argentina

Paraguay squad to play Bolivia and Argentina

 

By Ralph Hannah