The last to arrive in the country of the event, Paraguay that is already training in Rio de Janeiro, aware of its moment and the demands of the tournament, but does not believe in favorites: “Anyone can surprise in this Copa America”, said the team members on Friday.
La Albirroja is preparing since Friday at the School of Physical Education of the Army, in Carioca territory, under the command of Argentine Eduardo Berizzo, with a view to Sunday’s duel against guest Qatar, champion of the Asian Cup and host of the 2022 World Cup.
“I tracked my opponent (Qatar) closely in the Asian Cup”, says Shanghai Shenhua midfielder Oscar Romero after the physical work. They reviewed attacking and defensive tactics, ball maneuvers and football in tight spaces.
Paraguay comes up with the spirit after defeating Guatemala 2-0 in their pre-tournament friendly, breaking a five-year streak without winning preparation duels. They tie 1-1 before with Honduras.
The Albirrojo have won the continental title in 1953 and 1979 and have a respectable continental and world record.
-If you can, you’ll get there.
Winning the Cup is not the goal. But it’s not about having bad results either. “We know the present of our national team, but we are aware that we must show a good image”, said Romero.
“We have a difficult group. But we want to go as far as possible”, said playmaker Derlis Gonzalez.
With players from the leagues of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, England, Spain and Italy, La Albirroja is looking to captivate their fans once again.
Their participation is aimed more at refining the team for the World Cup classifications. “This tournament is going to be fundamental for the TD to make its evaluations and arrive in the best way to return to a World Cup”, Romero acknowledged.
Experienced 35-year-old striker Óscar ‘Tacuara’ Cardozo is the team’s leader, and alongside him will be young talents such as Derlis González (Santos), Federico Santander (Bolonia), Cecilio Domínguez (Independiente), Miguel Almirón (Newcastle), Óscar Romero (Shanghai Shenhua), Fabián Balbuena (West Ham) and Gustavo Gómez (Palmeiras).
An advantage? For Gonzalez, both he and Gomez, as well as Balbuena (until 2018 in Corinthians) play with a favorable rostrum. They know how much the Brazilians love their local clubs.
Paraguay will make their debut against Qatar on Sunday 16 June at the Maracaná. His group will be opened the day before in Salvador (northeast) with the duel between Argentina and Colombia.