Paraguay vs Jamaica | Tuesday 17 June | Estadio Regional Calvo y Bascuñán, Antofagasta | 23:00
Paraguay will be looking to build on their surprising draw with tournament favourites Argentina when they come up against the Reggae Boyz in a crucial Group B fixture on Tuesday. Only a victory will do.
To Win (90mins)
Paraguay showed themselves a decent side by claiming a come-from-behind 2-2 draw against Argentina. However, they’ll need more than a solitary point in this outing if they’re serious about a quarter-final spot. They looked every bit an ageing squad in the first half against La Albiceleste before a quick reshuffle at half-time yielded the desired results. They went toe-to-toe in the second stanza and although they rode their luck at times, the point was a deserved one. Four years ago they made it all the way to the final without winning a match, but if they’re to make it out of this group they’ll need to put Jamaica away. One thing counting in their favour is their record against CONCACAF sides. In their last ten games against CONCACAF sides Paraguay have lost just once (W7 D2), although it was their most recent clash against Costa Rica. Coach Ramón Díaz might think about bringing Lucas Barrios, the hero from the opening match, into his starting lineup although his international record of seven goals in 23 appearances says as much about this Paraguay side as anything else. They’re an uninspiring bunch.
Jamaica put up a good fight against defending champions Uruguay but their lack of end product proved their undoing. It really shouldn’t come as any surprise, given they had only scored one goal in their last three outings heading into that one. They do have some useful players in their midst though. Giles Barnes has always been a talented striker and seems to have found himself over in the MLS. Alongside Darren Mattocks he certainly has the ability to cause problems for a Paraguayan defence that struggled at times to deal with Argentina’s pace up front. They showed against Uruguay that they’re no pushovers and you can expect them to be similarly compact against Paraguay, looking to do their best work on the counter. If they’re to make it out of the groups they’ll need to show a bit more ambition, but you get the feeling they’re happy to just make up the numbers.
VERDICT: Paraguay 15/20
Paraguay’s result against Argentina has given them every chance to make it out of the group. They simply have to win this match. Desperation can be a dangerous thing in football, but I see it going in their favour this time around. The real value here comes in backing the unders market. We’ve seen plenty of goals already in Chile, but these are two sides unlikely to set the world on fire. This is hardly a vintage Paraguayan side, while Jamaica simply don’t have the firepower. You could also chance the 1-0 Paraguay victory at 5/1, but I’d take it for smalls.