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World Cup Qualifying - South America | Group Stage
Mar 24, 2022 at 11.30pm UK
 
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Paraguay
3 - 1
Ecuador

Morales (10'), Hincapie (45+6' og.), Almiron (54')
Almiron (32'), Riveros (39'), Cubas (43'), Gomez (81'), Villasanti (90+1')
Riveros (88')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Caicedo (85' pen.)
Valencia (53'), Torres (72')

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

:Headline: Preview: Paraguay vs. Ecuador - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - South America clash between Paraguay and Ecuador, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Ecuador will look to confirm their place in the World Cup 2022 on Thursday, when they travel to take on Paraguay.

The visitors currently sit third in the South American Qualifying group, leading the playoff place by four points with two games to go, meaning they require one victory to seal automatic progression.


Match preview

Paraguay have certainly struggled throughout the World Cup Qualifying campaign, with just two victories to their name from 16 attempts in the South American group.

Neither of those have come recently, though, as they firstly defeated Venezuela in the second outing of the campaign before ending a six-game winless run by completing the double over La Vinotinto with a 2-1 win last September, and they have since had to endure a span of seven games without another three-point haul.

In that time, La Albirroja have failed to score a single goal, firstly suffering a pair of defeats to Chile and a loss to Bolivia after a creditable stalemate against Argentina.

Newly under the management of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, they were able to put a stop to that losing run with a draw against Colombia in November, but, upon their return to action in 2022, La Albirroja suffered another pair of defeats, firstly falling to Uruguay before being thrashed 4-0 by Brazil most recently.

That has left them ninth in the 10-team group with just two games left to go, meaning they are out of contention for qualification and will now focus on finishing in a positive manner to gain confidence under their relatively new manager.

They host an Ecuador side who will look to confirm their place in this year's tournament, having been somewhat of a surprise package in the qualifying campaign.

La Tri currently sit third with 25 points from their 16 games, having won seven of those, and Gustavo Alfaro's side now come into the final round of qualifying games in a five-game unbeaten run in the South American group.

They firstly bounced back from just a fifth loss of the campaign with a goalless draw away at Colombia, before recording back-to-back wins over Venezuela and Chile, keeping two clean sheets in the process and establishing themselves in the top three as a result.

In the first set of fixtures in 2022, Ecuador faced tough challenges against Peru and group leaders Brazil, and they came out with two commendable draws to move within three points of confirming their automatic advancement to December's World Cup.

Now returning to action for the final two games, La Tri will aim to finish the job and reach the global tournament after missing out in 2018.

Paraguay World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Ecuador World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D

Ecuador form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D

Team News

Paraguay have called up an experienced squad, with Fabian Balbuena and captain Gustavo Gomez set to lead the defensive line.

Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron is a key man in the attack, and he will likely support lone striker Angel Romero.

Behind the front four, Mathias Villasanti and Richard Sanchez will operate at the base of the midfield.

In the absence of goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, who is suspended, Hernan Galindez should continue to play between the sticks for Ecuador.

Alfaro will likely deploy a very similar starting XI to the one that has brought him success over the course of the campaign, with Moises Caicedo and Carlos Gruezo being key men in the engine room.

Michael Estrada, Gonzalo Plata and all-time top scorer Enner Valencia form an established front line, while Bayer Leverkusen prospect Piero Hincapie is a star at the back.

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Silva; Rojas, Gomez, Balbuena, Arzamendia; Sanchez, Villasanti; Almiron, O Romero, Medina; A Romero

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Galindez; Preciado, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan; Caicedo, Gruezo, Franco; Plata, Estrada, Valencia


We say: Paraguay 0-2 Ecuador

With far more to play for, and with momentum on their side, we back Ecuador to secure a crucial win on Thursday.

La Tri have performed over and above all expectations to remain in the top four, and they should have enough to cruise past a struggling Paraguay team.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data




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