July 12, 2010
In 1998 Paraguay qualified for the round of 16 and lost to eventual World Cup champions France. In 2002 it was Germany that ended the dream. In 2010, La Albirroja lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual World Cup Champions Spain. This is a testament to the great football that Paraguay is currently playing. Only in 2006, did the team not advance past the first round. One has to wonder how far the team would advance, had they not drawn groups with such fierce opponents. Weâ€™re four years from the next one and I am already excited and thinking about attending matches in Brazil!
Congratulations to Paraguay! The current news is that Tata Martino will not return to head the team to the 2014 World Cup, but Iâ€™m sure whomever takes over the helm will have a crop of young eager players ready to make it to the next level! Letâ€™s go Paraguay, FINALS IN 2014!
June 30, 2010
For the first time in Paraguay's history, La Albirroja advances to the quarterfinals. It was a great scoreless match with the two sides coming close and leaving the fans hyperventilating with each miss. Itâ€™s the first match to go to penalty kicks in this world cup.
Despite some negative comments about the guarani offense, the team is playing great futbol. Now, La Albirroja is one of four South American teams left in the tournament. Spain struggled in the group stage, but they have revved their engines, and are now the team to beat. This will be the true test for Paraguay. Italy was weak and sported half a dozen players aged 30+, the Kiwis were happy not losing, and Slovakia was not much of a threat.
Tata Martino exclaimed after the match that we should ENJOY the win! With a full day of celebration behind us, itâ€™s time to concentrate on Spain.
There are some fans out there that call Paraguay â€śArgentinaâ€™s B-Teamâ€ť. Why? Well for one, La Albirroja have an Argentine manager and there are a few nationalized Argentines on the team. Some are calling La Albirroja â€śluckyâ€ť. For those that say those things, is it luck to beat Brazil and Argentina in qualifiers? Is it lucky to only have one goal scored against in four world cup matches?
Switzerland gave Spain a headache because they played defensive. Paraguay has a strong defense, probably the strongest in South America. Weâ€™ll see what happens this Saturday morning!
June 28, 2010
There was nothing to say for the New Zealand game. It was a scoreless draw in which both teams appeared to be content to finish the game in a draw. That will not be the case this Tuesday when La Albirroja play the Samurai Blue at Loftus Versfeld field.
I have to admit that I have not paid much attention to the Japanese squad, but based on the game action I have seen, they are not a team to be taken lightly.
Roque Santa Cruz stated that the two teams match up, but that Paraguay must use their physical strength to their advantage. Tata Martino added that, "Many of these games are decided from set balls, and we must take care of those opportunities", referring to Japan scoring their goals on free kicks.
The bad news for tomorrow: Defenseman Aureliano Torres is injured and will not be able to play against Japan.
June 22, 2010
There you have it. Gerardo Tata Martino's squad was composed and controlled the majority of the game. The first goal came from an excellent pass from Lucas Ramon Barrios to Enrique "Rambert" Vera. The second was a shot from Cristian Riveros. In the days leading to the game vs. Slovakia, there were news reports claiming that Jonathan Santana stated "not feeling Paraguayan" (born in Buenos Aires). This drama is nothing compared to what the French and English teams are going through, and the win shows how united Tata's team is. Santana refuted the claims, and what appeared to be mild controversy is over and all eyes are on the Kiwi squad. Slowly the confidence of La Albirroja is building up. On Sunday 20th of June Santa Cruz stated that the new goal of La Albirroja is to win the group. That's not a bad objective, considering that Netherlands will probably win their group and face the 2nd place team from group F. Japan or Netherlands? We'll take any team!
It's good to see the team get through the first game jitters. Now we can expect some beautiful futbol from this team.
June 15, 2010
I was not expecting a walk in the park against Italy, but I was expecting a win. Italy lost its first warm up game and looked very disorganized. Italy appeared like a team ready to concede 3 points. We can only look ahead to New Zealand and Slovakia and work toward gaining 6 more points.
Tata Martino summed the game up best, "We gave a great effort". Martino acknowledged that players were nervous and had many expectations. A point is a point, we'll take it. However, there is some disappointment because La Albirroja appeared to have the game won. In the end, some players were on the field with injuries (Santana could barely walk after the 41st minute of the 2nd half) and others were playing in positions not normally reserved for them (Santa Cruz defending because Santana was hurt).
Aureliano Torres, nice pass. Antolin, nice header. Buffon thanks for watching the ball pass by. +1
May 28, 2010
There is talk that Edgar BenĂtez, Nelson Haedo and Oscar Cardozo will be on the attack. The strategy used against Ireland will presumably be employed on Didier Drogbaâ€™s team on Sunday.
These players are returning from injury. This squad should not have any difficulty finding the back of the net.
May 25, 2010
What is going on? 7 minutes in and the Irish score?!!? 2-0 at the end of the half. It's not looking good...
May 19, 2010
The Paraguayan team were the victims of robbery on Monday May 17. The team had $100,000.00 in the hotelâ€™s lock box. A thief posing as a manager for the team asked hotel staff to open the lock box. The money was to pay for expenses while the team is training in pre-season games in the city of Evian les Bains, France.
The only question I have is: How would anyone else other than hotel staff and team staff know that cash was stored in the hotelâ€™s lock box? The other question is, wouldnâ€™t the Hilton Hotel staff know to call the person who deposited the money if it was ok to withdraw $100,000.00 in cash?
Paraguayan Football Association (APF) has hired a French attorney to recoup the losses from the Hilton hotel. The cash was to cover the teamâ€™s expenses while in Evian les Bains.
May 12, 2010
Argentine striker, Lucas Barrios, finished all paperwork and officially became available to play for Paraguay. Barrios had 19 goals in 33 games played for Borussia Dortmund this season and was the 3rd best scorer in the German Bundesliga. Barrios became nationalized on March 24th and will be joining the rest of the team in Evian for World Cup friendlies beginning with North Korea on June 15th.
Paraguayâ€™s national coach, Gerardo Martino, announced the list of players to participate in the warm up matches in the French city of Evain-les-Bains at the May 4th press conference. The list included 30 players, of which 23 will remain to defend the colors of La Albirroja in South Africa. As with all national teams, there is always a bit of controversy with the selection of players, with the exception of Nelson Cuevas. Recall that Nelson was the savior of the Paraguayan team in Korea-Japan 2002, scoring 2 goals in the 3-1 win over Slovenia which allowed La Albirroja to advance to the 2nd round. (Gracias a VĂctor Ysmael Gleano por su contribuciĂłn para esta entrada)
Here is the list of 30 chosen:
Goalies: Justo Villar (Real Valladolid), Aldo Bobadilla
(Independiente MedellĂn), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteno).
Defensas: Denis Caniza (LeĂłn), Paulo Da Silva (Sunderland),
Claudio Morel (Boca Juniors), Julio CĂ©sar CĂˇceres
(AtlĂ©tico Mineiro), Carlos Bonet, Julio Manzur (Olimpia),
Dario Veron (Pumas UNAM), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo,
Antolin Alcaraz (Brujas), Marcos CĂˇceres (Racing Club).
Midfielders: Edgar Barreto (Atalanta), Cristian Riveros
(Cruz Azul), Osvaldo Martinez (Monterrey), Jonathan
Santana (VfL Wolfsburgo), Victor Caceres (Libertad),
Enrique Vera (LDU Quito), Sergio Aquino (Libertad),
Eduardo Ledesma (Lanus), NĂ©stor Ortigoza (Argentinos Juniors).
Forwards: Marcelo Estigarribia, Jorge Achucarro
(Newellâ€™s Old Boys), Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City),
Nelson Haedo Valdez, Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund),
Oscar Cardozo (Benfica), Edgar Benitez (Pachuca),
Rodolfo Gamarra (Libertad).
Pedro Adrian Medrano was ESPN's Paraguay Correspondent for World Cup 2006 and he is back for more.