The build up to the 2010 World Cup will see many people backing the usual candidates for success. It’s very rare to see people looking beyond the likes of Spain, Brazil, England, Holland, Italy and Germany for the eventual winners. Nevertheless, there is always a team or two that surprises at these major tournaments and picking them out is always the trickiest factor to take into predicting. Denmark are one team I fancy to cause a few upsets and the second is none other than Paraguay.
The Paraguayans have been one of the rising teams in South America over the last decade or so. They made a major impression on the world scene at the 1998 World Cup where they held an impressive Spanish side to a 0-0 draw in the group stage before narrowly losing to eventual winners France after extra time in the second round. A similar impact was made in 2002 before a disappointing group stage exit in 2006. Even so, the team come into the 2010 tournament in great form. They qualified from the South American section in 2nd place to only Brazil and will likely be a match for anyone at the tournament.
The draw for the group stage has pitted Paraguay in a relatively kind group along with Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand. The Italians will most likely top the group although it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to see Paraguay beat an ageing Italy side. Second place is most likely though which could possibly see a second round tie against the Netherlands. The Dutch are known for playing pretty football and the hard working style of the Paraguayans will either frustrate them or see the Dutch completely overawe Paraguay. Should they win that, it’s unlikely to get any easy with Brazil possibly waiting.
Manager Gerardo Martino is likely to have a very good idea of his 23 man squad by now. Nevertheless, there may still be a couple of spots up for grabs if any young players make a claim late in the season. Below are a list of the players who are most likely to go to South Africa in the summer.
Paulo Da Silva
Roque Santa Cruz
The Paraguayans go into this tournament with an experienced squad who are knowledgeable of the challenges that lie ahead. They should have way too much for New Zealand and Slovakia to cope with in the group stage. However, I predict that they will narrowly go down fighting in the second round to Holland.