Team Profile: Paraguay
Colours: Red and white striped shirt, blue shorts, blue socks.
Nickname: La albirroja (the white and red)
Previous World Cup appearances: (7) 1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best World Cup performance: Second round 1986, 1998, 2002
Coach: Gerardo Martino (Argentine)
Most capped player: Carlos Gamarra 110
Top scorer: Jose Saturnino Cardozo 25
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10) : 30
It will be the eighth World Cup for la Albirroja, and the fourth in consecutive manner. In three of the last four Paraguay reached the first knockout round (Mexico 1986, Francia 1998 and Corea Japan 2002). Paraguay participated in 33 editions of the Copa America, and won the trophy two times, 1953 in Lima, Peru and 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Another recent achievement was the Silver medal in Athens 2004 Olympics.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Paraguay qualified to South Africa one match day before the end of the South American zone group, after beating Venezuela 1-2. The Albirroja, which was the best team of the first round of the group, ended in third place, bellow Brazil and Chile but before Argentina and Uruguay.
Paraguay historical main strength is the defence, and today is no exception. The team only received 16 goals in 18 matches during WC qualification, being the second national team in that matter. The counterattack is one of its main weapons and they are extremely dangerous in aerial game. In addition, Paraguay is a brave team that likes challenges and plays better if the opposition is harder.
One of the weaknesses is the lack of more possessing football. Paraguayan players don’t really like to have the ball, they feel more comfortable waiting and counterattacking, and that's always dangerous.
Argentinean Gerardo Martino imposed in the Paraguayan national team the same discipline of work that made him a successful coach in local clubs Cerro Porteño and Libertad. He is from "Marcelo Bielsa's school", so he does a lot of tactic and strategy planification. He uses a 4-4-2 tactical formation almost always, but occasionally used a more offensive 4-3-3.
Salvador Cabañas (America, México): He was awarded with the Best Americas Player trophy in 2007, and he deserved it. Cabañas is a tremendous goal scorer, a natural killer that never forgives if he has the chance to score. But he is also a generous striker, and often assists his mates to score. Do not get fooled with his not so athletic figure. He is a skilled goals corer.
Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmund): Another threat in the Paraguayan attack zone. He is a different kind of forward, compared to Cabañas. He adds a lot more pace and bravery to fight for every ball. His speed, technique and great aerial power makes him a real predator inside the box.
Cristian Riveros (Cruz Azul): Riveros is the midfielder with the main creative role in Paraguay midfield, but he's more like an all-around midfielder, as he is very generous and helps his mates in marking and pressing. Nevertheless, his main attribute is his technique and passing, and his job to create the chances to Cabañas and Haedo.
BEST FOOTBALLING MOMENT
Paraguay had some good moments in its history, like when they won the Copa America two times. The first one was in 1953, in Lima, Peru, after beating Brazil 3-2 in the final match. The second was in 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, beating Chile in the final, with a great generation of players, including Roberto Cabañas, Julio César "Romerito", Roberto "Gato" Fernández, whom later qualified to Mexico 1986 World Cup, after 28 years of absence.
Famous for: Paraguay has an extremely hot and dry weather so the people are obliged to find ways to hydrate themselves. One way is drinking the traditional Tereré, which is very similar to Uruguayan mate (an infused drink made of shrub leaves and water). Also, Paraguay has several typical foods like Paraguayan soup (solid soup elaborated with corn flour) and the Mbeju (starch omelettes).
Most likely to: Paraguayan players will maintain their local diet during the World Cup, as the Paraguayan FA will take some cookers top South Africa.
The dream of every Paraguayan is that the team could reach the famous "fifth match" (quarter-finals). The Round of 16 has been like a wall in recent World Cups for Paraguay, and now its time for La Albirroja to make a step forward.