James CookeBrazil vs Paraguay, Friday June 28th, 01:30, Arena do Gremio. Hosts Brazil continue their quest to lift the Copa America on home soil as they meet Paraguay in the tournament’s quarter-finals.
Hosts Brazil continue their quest to lift the Copa America on home soil as they meet Paraguay in the tournament’s quarter-finals.
Tite’s Brazil emerged from Group A with an almost-perfect record, winning twice and drawing once in their three games – against Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru. What might be most encouraging for Brazil is that they ended the group stage on a high, entering a five-star performance as they thrashed Los Incas with five goals from five different goalscorers.
Paraguay reached the knockout stage by finishing as the second best of the three third-place teams, qualifying ahead of Japan by virtue of conceding four goals to their seven. It’s not exactly the strongest basis on which to be in the last eight of a major international competition – indeed, Paraguay didn’t win any of their three group games, drawing with Qatar and Argentina and losing to Colombia.
But shocks do occur in one-off games, and it wouldn’t be the first time Brazil have crumbled under the weight of expectation – although a disaster akin to their World Cup 2014 hammering against Germany seems particularly far-fetched. The five-time world champions can’t be complacent, though, especially when you remember they haven’t gone past the quarter-finals of the Copa America since the last time they won it, in 2007.
Indeed, Paraguay’s recent Copa America record is better than that of Brazil’s. While they were eliminated at the group stage in 2016 – as were Brazil – they were semi-finalists in 2015 and runners-up in 2012. It is however 40 years since La Albirroja lifted the trophy, so they’re still fighting against history.
And this Brazil squad appears better equipped, emotionally, than the group five years ago. Neymar’s pre-semi-final injury was greeted with something approaching mourning and set the tone for the shambolic performance that followed. Back in knockout action on home soil – and having been without Neymar for the duration of the competition – it’s a different situation.
Brazil’s performance against Peru should set the tone, an attack-minded team capable of routing weaker opponents. A win by three goals shouldn’t be a surprise for the bookies – 3-0 to Brazil.
Brazil opened their tournament with a 3-0 win over Bolivia, and closed the group stage with a 5-0 trouncing of Peru. In between was a disappointing goalless draw against Venezuela but when this team is firing, there’s no shortage of goals. Brazil to win by three goals is 33/10 at 10Bet.
Philippe Coutinho hasn’t had the best of times since moving to Barcelona in January 2018 but his form in the early stages of the Copa America has been encouraging – with two goals in three games, he ended the group stage as the tournament’s joint-top scorer. The knockout rounds are a further chance to remind the world of his capabilities, and maybe seal a move away from Camp Nou. Coutinho is 21/5 to score anytime at 888Sport.
Head to Head
Brazil and Paraguay first met in the 1921 version of the Copa America – with Brazil winning 3-0.
It was the first of a total of 48 Brazil victories over Paraguay, with Paraguay claiming 13 wins and the countries drawing 19 times.
The last time they met was in a World Cup qualifier in 2017, when goals from Coutinho, Neymar and Marcelo gave Brazil a 3-0 win.
Brazil ended the group stage as the tournament’s top scorers with eight goals in their three games.
Brazil’s first four Copa America/South American Championship wins came when they were tournament hosts – in 1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989. Not until 1997, when the competition was held in Bolivia, did they triumph on foreign soil.
Paraguay’s only win in 2019 came in a pre-tournament friendly against Guatemala, when Gustavo Gomez and Derlis Gonzalez scored in a 2-0 victory.
Paraguay and Brazil met in the final of the 1922 South American championship. Five countries took part, and Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay ended level on points, necessitating a play-off round. Uruguay withdrew, and Brazil won 3-0.
Aspiring football journalist who realised he could put his vast knowledge towards gambling and making some money. With years spent on Football Manager, his boyhood obsession has carried over into his adult life and he's proven his mum that all that time spent playing a game wasn't to be wasted. A European football expert, James writes about anything on the continent and has began expanding his knowledge to other leagues in South America, Asia and the USA.