Copa America 2019, Paraguay vs Qatar: Match preview
The wait is almost over for Paraguay and Qatar as they lock horns in the first group B Game of the Copa America on Sunday Night. The game might not seem like an eye catcher, but there are a number of reasons why you should tune into this one, as out of form Paraguay take on Asian Champions Qatar in the famous Maracana stadium in Rio De Janeiro.
Kickoff time: 16 June 2019, 17:00 local time (12:30 am IST, 20:00 BST)
Venue: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
Paraguay's form has been indifferent in recent times as they have won just one game in their last six. That's simply not good enough if they want to make it out of the group this year, something they failed to do back in 2016 where they picked up only one point.
A win for Paraguay in the opening game could lift the spirits all around. On the plus side, Paraguay won their last match 2-0 vs Guatemala. However, their performance was slow and lacklustre; La Albirroja lacked any real creativity going forward.
They will certainly have to raise the bar if they want to win against a young and fearless Qatar side. This will be the first competitive game for the new Paraguay manager Eduardo Berizzo, who was formerly with Sevilla.
The poster boy for Paraguay is Newcastle's new signing Miguel Almiron, and he will need to be on his game if Paraguay want to pick up all three points on Sunday. He is the heartbeat of the side; the chances that Paraguay get will most likely come through the vision, creativity and speed of "Miggy".
Almiron can't do it all himself though, and will desperately need someone to finish the chances provided. That man could be Libertad forward Oscar Cardozo.
This season Cardozo has scored 4 goals in 10 matches. He already has 11 goals for his national team and he will be hoping to add to that tally come Sunday.
The first goal in this game could be massive, with Qatar having a solid defensive record. Paraguay will not want to go a goal behind, and the centre half pairing of Gustavo Gomez and Fabian Balbuena will be crucial in making sure they shut out Qatar.
Unlike their opposition, Qatar do have promising recent form, having won the Asian Cup unexpectedly. Invited as a guest, Qatar will be hoping to take the feel-good factor into the game against Paraguay.
With all 23 of their players plying their trade in the Qatari league, this will be the first competitive game against a side from another continent for most of them. Qatar will be full of hope and will be confident of getting something out of the game on Sunday - especially since their form book is more promising than that of Paraguay.
They will be looking to their solid defence to help them just like they did in the Asia Cup. Forward Almoez Ali will be hoping to impress on the back of an outstanding season. He is going to have to reach those heights again if Qatar want to get a result against Paraguay.
This is a game where taking chances will be highly important, with both teams usually favoring counterattacking plays.