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Copa America

Jun 20, 2019 at 1.30am UK
Argentina
1-1
Paraguay
Messi (57' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-1)
Sanchez (37')

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Preview: Argentina vs. Paraguay - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Argentina vs. Paraguay - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews the Copa America group-stage clash between Argentina and Paraguay, including team news and predicted lineups.
By , Senior Reporter | 28d

The pressure is on Argentina as they take on Paraguay in their second group match at the 2019 Copa America in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A 2-0 loss to Colombia in their opening fixture leaves Lionel Messi & Co. playing catch-up heading into this match at Estadio Mineirao as they sit bottom of Group B.


Argentina


As we have become accustomed to when watching Argentina down the years, even with the world's best player in their ranks, and a number of other world-class talents to support him, they so often come up short in major tournaments.

La Albiceleste have fallen at the quarter-final stage or earlier in six of their last seven World Cup participations since finishing runners-up in 1990, while also going 26 years without success in the Copa America.

If their opening-game showing against Colombia is anything to go by, that disappointing run could stretch another year when they co-host the tournament.

Argentina, aiming to reach the final for a third straight time, went down to Colombia through goals in the final 20 minutes from Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata.

It was their first defeat to their South American rivals in 12 years and it left Messi, the undisputed star of this side, feeling "bitter" as he and his teammates faced yet more criticism from supporters.

Worryingly for Lionel Scaloni's charges, who put on a poor showing in last year's World Cup, they have now won only two of their last 10 competitive matches, losing three of the last four.

Argentina's only two victories during that 10-match run came against Ecuador in World Cup qualifying and Nigeria in the competition proper.

La Albiceleste have not lost their opening two matches in a Copa America tournament since 1979 when suffering defeat to Bolivia and Brazil, and the pressure is on if they are to make it through.

Recent form in Copa America: L
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWWL


Paraguay


Paraguay squandered a two-goal lead to draw against tournament debutants Qatar in their opening match as their own disappointing run of form continued.

Oscar Cardozo converted from the penalty spot four minutes in and Derlis Gonzalez struck in the 56th minute with a long-ranger, only for Almoez Ali and Boualem Khoukhi to snatch a point for Qatar, who have been invited along to Brazil with Japan to make up the numbers.

That four-goal draw, which would have felt like a defeat to boss Eduardo Berizzo, leaves Paraguay winless in their last eight Copa America games. In fact, they have only won one of their last 18 games in the competition - a 1-0 win over Jamaica in 2015.

Taking only Copa America matches against South American opposition into account, meanwhile, they have not won any of their last 13 since a 5-0 victory over Colombia in 2007.

With just one win in nine matches to their name over the past 20 months, coming against minnows Guatemala earlier this month, it is easy to see why Paraguay have been little chance of pulling off an upset.

Los Guaranies have kept back-to-back clean sheets against Argentina in all competitions, though, following a run of 20 goals conceded in their previous five encounters, and holding on for a point on Thursday would not be the worst outcome given that two third-placed sides will progress to the quarter-finals.

Paraguay looked incredibly shaky at the back without suspended defender Gustavo Gomez in their ranks against Qatar, so attack against attack may well be their best ploy here.

With a match against Colombia in their final Group B outing, Argentinian-born boss Berizzo will know that there is little margin for error against the back-to-back beaten finalists.

Recent form in Copa America: D
Recent form (all competitions): DLLDWD


Team News


Scaloni may be tempted to make changes following the loss to Colombia, with Paulo Dybala among those pushing for a recall.

Shoehorning the Juventus attacker into his side has proved difficult for Scaloni, though, and the likes Matias Suarez, Roberto Pereyra and Lautaro Martinez all appear to be better placed to start alongside the undroppable Messi.

Angel di Maria was subbed off against Colombia and may be overlooked entirely here, while Sergio Aguero is another potentially facing the axe after scoring just three goals in his last 23 competitive games for Argentina.

As for Paraguay, Gonzalez scored from the bench against Qatar to put his side two goals in front and may have done enough to warrant a start in this second Group B outing.

Gonzalez is the only player of the current 23-man squad for Paraguay to have already scored against Argentina, netting in their 1-0 win in October 2016.

Cardozo was also on the scoresheet at the Maracana and should retain his place through the middle, leaving a couple of spots up for grabs in attacking midfield, one of which will likely be claimed by Newcastle United ace Miguel Almiron.

Argentina possible starting lineup:
Armani; Casco, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Pereyra, Paredes, Lo Celso, De Paul; Messi, Aguero

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Valdez, Balbuena, Alonso, Arzamendia; Ortiz, Rojas; Gonzalez, Almiron, Dominguez; Cardozo


Head To Head

Argentina have lost just one of their last seven meetings with Paraguay in all competitions, with that loss coming in their most recent such encounter - 1-0 at home during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

La Albiceleste have never lost against Paraguay in the Copa America, however, going 25 matches without defeat.

They have only faced Chile more times (27) without losing a single game in the competition (excluding penalties).



We say: Argentina 2-0 Paraguay

Losing to Colombia in their opening match was a blow for Argentina, but certainly not a fatal one. They are strong favourites to overcome Paraguay on Thursday, a side they are 25 places above in the FIFA rankings, and a victory in Belo Horizonte will go a long way to restoring their battered confidence.


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