Paraguay will kick-start their 2019 Copa America campaign with a stern test as they take on the reigning Asian Cup winners Qatar at the Maracanã on Sunday evening. As ever, you will be able to watch all the action via beIN CONNECT.
Paraguay head into the Copa America on a run of relatively poor form, prior to their 2-0 victory over Guatemala last week the La Albirroja had not had a victory in their last seven international outings. The 1979 champions failed to get out of the group stage in 2016 and will face an uphill challenge in a group alongside Colombia, Argentina and Asian Champions Qatar.
A victory will be the number one priority for Eduardo Berizzo’s side ahead of games against Argentina and Colombia respectively. Miguel Almirón will be the man to watch for the Paraguayans. The Newcastle playmaker has impressed since joining in January, Almirón is likely to be tasked with dictating play from central midfield.
As for Qatar, they have become the first ever Arab nation to be invited to the Copa America and will be seeing both the 2019 and 2020 versions of the tournament as an important opportunity to test themselves against the very best South America has to offer before the 2022 World Cup.
For now, Qatar seems to be happy to learn from each group game they will play in. However, fresh from signing a new deal to 2022, Maroons boss Felix Sanchez will be targeting this game for points ahead of games against Colombia and Argentina.
Prior to Sunday evenings game, Qatar fell to a 2-0 defeat to Brazil which halted a run of seven consecutive victories which also saw the maroons lift the Asian Cup with wins over South Korea, the UAE and Japan.
Almoez Ali will be an attacking threat for the gulf side, Alo scored nine goals at the Asian Cup including decisive goals in both the semi-final and final. The 22-year old thrives on the big occasion, and it will be interesting to see what the Duhail striker brings to the table for Qatar.
Paraguay have not been given much of a chance ahead of the 2019 Copa America but will believe they have a fairly solid squad heading to Brazil and they will hope they can at least put up a challenge to make it out of the group stage.
They will have to be at their very best with a competitive Group B lying in wait with their opening game against Qatar seemingly a must win with more difficult tasks in Columbia and Argentina still to come.
It is easy to see why they have been written off due to their poor form in recent years and with just one win to their name since their World Cup qualifying campaign in 2017, a lot will rest on the shoulders of Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron.
Qatar will make a guest appearance at the 2019 Copa America but they will be attempting to be competitive rather than just appearing to make up the numbers especially after a brilliant Asian Cup.
They won every game in that competition, culminating in them lifting the trophy after the 3-1 victory over Japan in the final as they head into the Copa America in superb form but this will be a different proposition.
A 2-0 defeat to Brazil in their friendly at the start of the month highlighted the level of opposition they could face in this competition but one man who will be relishing this tournament is Almoez Ali after he scored nine goals during the Asian Cup.
Qatar are one of the two guest teams to feature in this year’s Copa America but ahead of hosting the World Cup in 2022, they are intending on not simply turning up to make up the numbers after they won the Asian Cup at the start of the year. They face Paraguay in their first match who have struggled for any sort of form for over 18 months which could open the door for Qatar to snatch a draw from this opening contest.