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Number of World Cup appearances: 8
Best World Cup finish: Second round (1986, 1998, 2002)
One of the biggest World Cup stories off the pitch is no doubt the tragedy behind star striker Salvador Cabanas being shot in the head in Mexico after a domestic game. What is even more mind-boggling is his amazing recovery, and in March he was jogging and taking kicks with his team. Miraculously, he might find his way to South Africa, and that is reason enough to make Paraguay a team to root for this summer.
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Cabanas was part of an exceptional duo with Roca Santa Cruz, and they possibly could still be, but for now that striking partnership has been put on hold and head coach Gerardo Martino will be searching for other options.
As a South American football nation not named Brazil or Argentina, it is definitely possible that most people are unaware this is now the Paraguayans’ fourth consecutive World Cup appearance. They actually finished ahead of Argentina in CONMEBOL (South America) qualifying and, despite not finishing no better than the second round in any one Finals, Paraguay has proven they are a very capable football side.
2010 Paraguay World Cup Odds
Paraguay is currently listed at 66/1 futures odds to win the World Cup.
They are 11/4 to win Group F.
Key Player To Watch
With the services of Salvador Canbanas still unknown, Roca Santa Cruz is the man that will have to rise to the occasion. While he hasn’t been able to find a spot in the first team for club side Manchester City in the EPL, he has been a constant in English football for a while now. However, not getting enough quality playing time has to be a big concern for his match fitness and level of play coming into this summer.
Best Team Asset
You don’t finish third in South American qualifying and not be as good as your play. Paraguay is legit, and their play leading up to South Africa will have them well versed in what is needed for success at the World Cup. And having taken part in the last three Finals, its players know the stage and won’t shy away from the big moment.
Key Team Weakness
The possible absence of Salvador Cabanas could leave Paraguay without a major weapon in their arsenal this summer. He was their leading goalscorer in qualifying, and the firepower of this team will take a hit without their hit man.
Paraguay World Cup Predictions
There is still enough to believe in that Paraguay can progress into the knockout stages. Italy is going to win this group, that is a given. But beyond that Paraguay has to feel good about being able to fight for the group’s second spot. I would give the South Americans the slight advantage over the lesser-experienced sides of Slovakia and New Zealand.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
Don’t try to be too cheeky and wager against the Italians in Paraguay’s opener. Despite the odds being as high as they are, the value isn’t there. Besides, a loss to Italy will leave them in must-win mode and then backing the Paraguayans to win against Slovakia and New Zealand in their next two games is a better scenario for your money.
Paraguay World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Italy, June 14, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Green Point (Cape Town)
v. Slovakia, June 20, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Free State (Mangaung/Bloemfontein)
v. New Zealand, June 24, 2010 – 10 a.m. at Peter Mokaba (Polokwane)