Morning all and welcome to Sports Mole
's live commentary of the Copa America
clash between Argentina and Paraguay from Belo Horizonte. Argentina opened their Group B campaign with a 2-0 loss to Colombia and are therefore under severe pressure to pick up a positive result in this match. Paraguay, meanwhile, began their tournament with a 2-2 draw against Qatar. Stay tuned!
ARGENTINA: Marchesin; Casco, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Lo Celso, Paredes, Pereyra; De Paul, L Martinez, Messi
PARAGUAY: Fernandez; Piris, Gomez, Alonso, Arzamendia; Gonzalez, Sanchez, R Rojas, M Rojas; Almiron; Santander
Argentina's team shows five changes from the one which started the defeat against Colombia, with Agustin Marchesin, Milton Casco, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo de Paul and Lautaro Martinez all coming into the XI. Lionel Messi will seemingly operate from the left, while Leandro Paredes and Giovani Lo Celso both keep their positions in midfield. Very interesting indeed.
As for Paraguay, West Ham United's Fabian Balbuena surprisingly drops to the bench, but Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron will again operate in the number 10 position. There is a change at centre-forward, though, with Federico Santander coming in for Oscar Cardozo, who drops to the bench alongside Hernan Perez. It looks to be a 4-4-1-1 for Paraguay in this match.
Here we go then - the national anthems have been sung, the pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Almost time for kickoff here!
KICKOFF: Paraguay kick things off in this Group B clash...
... it must be said that there is a brilliant atmosphere inside the stadium. Can Argentina return to winning ways, or will Paraguay pick up a huge three points? It should be a very open game.
Just a correction to the Argentina lineup - Armani actually keeps his spot in goal. Marchesin had been listed as the goalkeeper ahead of kickoff, but Armani starts between the sticks - not entirely sure why, but that is the case! Not too much to report in the first four minutes here.
Argentina have been the brighter of the two teams in the first six minutes, but there has not been too much to get excited about. Paraguay are in more of a 4-2-3-1 than a 4-4-1-1, with Almiron playing off the right. Argentina, meanwhile, look to be in a 4-4-2 with Messi up top.
All very low-key at the moment with neither side offering much in the final third. Argentina are trying to get things moving through midfield, but Paraguay are keeping a good shape here.
Slight stoppage in play here as Paraguay's Gonzalez receives some treatment for a head injury. It was a nasty clash of heads and his position in the game could be in doubt.
Gonzalez is still down on the turf receiving some treatment.
Gonzalez is still down, which means that there is going to be a fairly lengthy amount of stoppage time at the end of the first period. The stretcher is on for the number 10.
Quite bizarre as the stretcher is ready for Gonzalez but he jumps up and sprints off, before the physio catches up with him on the sideline. Still unclear whether the attacker will continue.
Paraguay centre-back Gomez has also just taken a kick in the head from Messi, which brings another stoppage. This game has not really got going in the first 16 minutes here.
Gonzalez is back on the field for Paraguay having been cleared to continue.
To be honest, this game is not great. Neither goalkeeper has been tested, while there has not even been a half-chance to report. Argentina are making it easy for Paraguay at the moment.
It was certainly bold from the Argentina boss to make four changes for this game, but leaving out a player of Aguero's ability is questionable. That said, the Manchester City forward was disappointing in the defeat against Colombia, who beat Qatar earlier today to move onto six points.
Paraguay's leading scorer with 11 - Oscar Cardozo - is only on the bench tonight. Santander is leading the line, but he only has two goals for the national team. Newcastle's Almiron, meanwhile, has somewhat surprisingly failed to find the back of the net for Paraguay thus far.
Argentina are shading the possession, but still no shots from either side. Martinez has just attempted to drive into a dangerous position, but number 20 Rojas stuck out a leg.
Messi has the chance to deliver a deep free kick into the Paraguay box, but it is easily defended by Gomez, who can then push his team forward from the back. The match is 27 minutes old and nothing has happened in terms of half-chances, shots or bright play.
Another quiet game from Messi thus far. Cristiano Ronaldo fans will claim that the Portuguese helps drag his team through matches at times, does Messi do the same for Argentina?
Finally some excitement as Gonzalez breaks into a dangerous position for Paraguay before flashing a cross into the Argentina box and it is deflected behind for a corner kick.
SHOT! Half-chance for Paraguay at the far post as R Rojas meets a flick from Alonso, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. A couple of bright moments for Paraguay here.
YELLOW CARD! Gomez (Paraguay) is booked for a rash challenge on Martinez.
SAVE! Messi stands over a free kick in a dangerous position, but the Barcelona attacker can only chip into the arms of the Paraguay goalkeeper, who shuffled across his goal.
Colombia caused Argentina all sorts of problems on the counter-attack last time out and you do get the feeling that Paraguay can do the same tonight. Argentina are weak defensively, there is no getting away from that. Still goalless with 36 minutes on the clock here.
GOAL! ARGENTINA 0-1 PARAGUAY (SANCHEZ)
Oh my word! Paraguay make the breakthrough in the 37th minute as Almiron delivers a wonderful cross into Richard Sanchez, who turns the ball into the bottom corner of the net. It is an excellent goal from the midfielder and Argentina are in all sorts of bother once again.
Sanchez had not scored for Paraguay before tonight, but that has all changed here. Not too much in the way of a response from Argentina as we head for the end of the first period.
Tagliafico breaks down the left for Argentina before looking to find a teammate, but there are no takers and Paraguay can resume play from the back. We have a real game on our hands now.
SHOT! Arzamendia strikes over the Argentina crossbar from distance.
YELLOW CARD! R Rojas (Paraguay) is booked for a foul on Paredes.
There should be a decent amount of injury time at the end of the first period as Gonzalez was down for a few minutes with a head injury early in the match. Can Argentina respond before the half-time break? Their fans inside the stadium are very, very frustrated.
YELLOW CARD! Armani (Argentina) is booked for a foul on Gonzalez, having come well out of his goal! The Paraguay players want a red card, but the referee has given a yellow for now!
Armani is fortunate to stay on the field for that rash challenge! It is just another indication of Argentina's nervousness as we approach the end of the first half of action here.
We are into the second of three added minutes at the end of the first period.
Gomez is now down receiving some treatment for Paraguay, which will mean more added time at the end of the first period. We could well be playing all night at this rate.
Gomez has been stretched off the field and play continues late in the first period.
HALF TIME: ARGENTINA 0-1 PARAGUAY
So there we have it - the referee brings the first period to a close with Paraguay leading Argentina 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Richard Sanchez. It has been another very poor half from Argentina, who are currently staring at a second successive defeat at the Copa America.
STATISTICS! Argentina shaded the first-half possession with 57%, but only managed one attempt on target in the opening 45 minutes, which was a lacklustre Messi free kick. Paraguay, meanwhile, hit the target with one of their five attempts, which found the back of the net. Gomez and R Rojas have both been carded for Paraguay, while Armani is in the book for Argentina.
BENCH WATCH! Argentina boss Scaloni has a number of attacking options on his bench tonight, with Aguero, Di Maria, Dybala and Suarez amongst those capable of making a difference in the second period. Paraguay, meanwhile, also have plenty of quality in reserve, including their leading scorer Oscar Cardozo, who will surely be introduced at some point tonight.
KICKOFF: Argentina resume the action here...
... ARGENTINA SUB! Aguero has replaced Pereyra for Argentina.
It has to be so, so much better from Argentina, who have been really disappointing in the Copa America thus far. Can Scaloni's team turn this around in the second 45 minutes?
Bright start to the second period from Paraguay as they win a corner following a spell of pressure, but Argentina manage to scramble the ball clear. More danger at the back.
If Argentina lose tonight then they can no longer finish first or second in the group and would have to beat Qatar in their last game to stand a chance of going through as one of the best third-placed finishers. There is still a lot of football to be played in this match, though.
Nothing is coming off for Argentina as a flick from Aguero is easily picked off by Gomez, who clears out wide to Almiron and Paraguay can again threaten in the wide positions here.
OFF THE BAR! Huge chance for Argentina as Aguero delivers a cross into Martinez, but the number 22's attempt hits the crossbar and Messi cannot convert from the rebound. A lot better from Argentina there, but they need much more of it in the remainder of this game.
VAR are having a look at something here - possible penalty for Argentina?!
PENALTY! Argentina have a penalty for a Piris handball!
YELLOW CARD! Piris (Paraguay) is given a yellow card for handball inside the box.
GOAL! ARGENTINA 1-1 PARAGUAY (MESSI, PEN)
Messi flashes his penalty into the bottom corner to level the scores! Huge moment in this Copa America clash and Argentina will now be looking to complete the turnaround.
This is now a real test for Paraguay, who are surely going to come under some strong pressure in the final 30 minutes or so. It would not be a surprise to see Berizzo look to his bench in a bid to freshen some tired legs. This game is very, very delicately poised now.
PENALTY! Oh my word! Incredible! Paraguay now have a penalty of their own as Otamendi brings Gonzalez to the ground with a rash challenge. Huge chance for Paraguay here!
SAVE! Disaster for Gonzalez as the Paraguay attacker sees his penalty saved by Armani. It was a smart save from the Argentina goalkeeper, but it was a poor spot kick from Gonzalez.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Martinez to send Argentina ahead as the striker meets a cross from Lo Celso, but he somehow heads over from close range. All happening in the second period.
ARGENTINA SUB! Di Maria for Martinez is Argentina's second change.
Little over 20 minutes of the second period remaining and it would be a huge surprise if there were not more goals in this game. Paraguay are also preparing a substitution here.
Lo Celso attempts to drive away in the middle of the Paraguay midfield, but again it is excellent work from Sanchez, who is back to make the challenge. Still 1-1 in this match.
PARAGUAY SUB! Romero replaces Santander in Paraguay's first change.
Little over 15 minutes of normal time remaining, but there should be a decent amount of added time due to the two penalty incidents and the changes that are happening. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few minutes as both teams are holding firm.
You do wonder how Dybala will be feeling - the attacker was not used against Colombia despite his team needing a goal, and looks to be staying on the bench for this match. Aguero has once again been poor in the second period, but there is still time in this game.
A draw for Argentina tonight would certainly not be the end of the world, but it has not been the type of performance that the fans would have wanted following the defeat to Colombia.
YELLOW CARD! Tagliafico (Argentina) picks up a yellow card for a foul on Piris.
Argentina can still make another change in the latter stages of this match, and surely that will happen if the score stays 1-1 for the next few minutes or so. Paraguay, meanwhile, can still make two changes in the final minutes. Still a solid 10 minutes of football left to play here.
YELLOW CARD! Otamendi (Argentina) is booked for a foul on Almiron.
PARAGUAY SUB! Ortiz replaces Almiron for Paraguay.
ARGENTINA SUB! Suarez replaces De Paul in Argentina's final change.
Argentina threaten from a couple of corners in quick succession, but Paraguay manage to clear their lines on both occasions as the clock ticks towards 90 minutes here.
PARAGUAY SUB! Escobar replaces Gonzalez in Paraguay's third chance.
We are into the first of seven minutes of additional time here!
Not too much to report thus far as Paraguay continue to resist the pressure. If Argentina are going to win this match then they are going to need a late, late second goal here.
SHOT! M Rojas sees a shot from distance easily saved by Armani.
Aguero is ruled offside following a period of Argentina pressure and the clock continues to tick towards the final whistle. Paraguay are closing in on a very impressive point here.
Almost time up in Belo Horizonte and it appears that Argentina will have to win their final group game against Qatar to stand a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. Paraguay are going to sit second on two points if they can hold onto a draw in the closing minutes.
FULL TIME: ARGENTINA 1-1 PARAGUAY
All over here! The result means that Paraguay stay second in the section on two points, while Argentina are fourth on a single point, meaning that Lionel Scaloni's side will have to beat Qatar in their final group match on Sunday to stand a chance of booking a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition. More problems for Argentina, that is for sure. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!