MX23RW : Monday, March 25 06:44:20
Jun 27, 2015 at 10.30pm UK
Brazil
1-1
Paraguay
Robinho (15')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Gonzalez (72' pen.)
Paraguay win 4-3 on penalties

Preview: Brazil vs. Paraguay

Sports Mole looks ahead to the fourth Copa America quarter-final between a Neymar-less Brazil and Paraguay.

The last of the four Copa America quarter-finals contains five-time World Cup winners Brazil.

The Selecao will descend upon the Estadio Municipal de Concepcion looking to gain revenge against a Paraguay side that dumped them out of the competition at the same stage four years ago.


Brazil

Former Brazilian football player Dunga attends the closing ceremony prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final football match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 13, 2014© Getty Images


They may have advanced through to this stage as winners of Group C with six points collected from a possible nine, but Brazil have been less than convincing so far.

A lot of the blame for that has landed at the feet of returning head coach Dunga, who seems to have taken his safety-first approach as a player into management. Indeed, in the 2-1 win over Venezuela last time out, Brazil ended the contest with four centre-backs on the pitch and only just held on to claim all three points.

These performances are something of a surprise, given that they won all 10 of their friendly matches in the build-up to the tournament, conceding just two goals in the process.

Of course, much of the talk heading into this contest has centred around how the Brazilians will cope without their suspended captain and talisman Neymar, who was dealt a four-game ban for his attempted headbutt on Colombia's Jeison Murillo, which rules him out the remainder of the competition.

Despite Neymar's undoubted quality, the 44-goal striker's absence allowed others to flourish against the Venezuelans, in particular Chelsea playmaker Willian, as well as Robinho and new Liverpool signing Roberto Firmino.

According to Whoscored.com, as a team Brazil had 17 shots at goal, which is more than they had managed in the previous two games with Neymar spearheading the attack.

Up against awkward opposition in Paraguay, Dunga's men will need to up their recent performance levels if they are to stand any chance of winning a fifth Copa America title in seven instalments.

Recent form: WWWWLW


Paraguay

Paraguay's forward Lucas Barrios celebrates after scoring against Uruguay during their 2015 Copa America football championship match, in La Serena, on June 20, 2015© Getty Images

Along with hosts Chile and pre-tournament favourites Argentina, Paraguay went through the group stages unbeaten, much to the surprise of many.

After all, they had struggled in the wake of Gerardo Martino's departure in 2011, going through three different managers during what was a botched 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. It meant that for the first time since 1994, La Albirroja did not compete in football's biggest tournament.

Enter Ramon Diaz, who many believed would use this Copa as a trial period to see which players he could trust going forward, with the results being very much a secondary thought.

However, from the moment that they battled back to claim a 2-2 draw against Argentina in the group opener, Diaz's team showed that they were going to be no pushovers. That impressive display against the Argentines was backed up by a 1-0 win over Jamaica, before a 1-1 draw was played out with Uruguay.

Heading to Chile, goals had been a problem for Paraguay, who had scored just seven times in their previous nine outings - a run that included a disappointing 0-0 draw with the United Arab Emirates.

Yet, in the group stages, that problem seemingly evaporated. Previously goal-shy, three strikers have found the net - Lucas Barrios (twice), Edgar Benitez and Nelson Valdez.

In seven of the last eight Copas, Paraguay have reached the quarter-finals, but only on one occasion have they managed to go beyond that stage.

Recent form: DLDDWD


Team News

Firmino of Brazil rounds goalkeeper Claudio Bravo of Chile to score the opening goal during the international friendly match between Brazil and Chile at the Emirates Stadium on March 29, 2015© Getty Images

With Neymar on his holidays, it is expected that Firmino will keep his place as Brazil's main striker. Liverpool have just spent a reported £29m on the 23-year-old, which is bound to heap extra pressure on his shoulders in this encounter.

Robinho has also been tipped to retain his role in the side following his impressive display against Venezuela, but Diego Tardelli is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.

He could well be joined on there by David Luiz, with Miranda and Thiago Silva likely to be Dunga's preferred central defensive pairing.

As for Paraguay, with qualification all but secured, Diaz made a number of alterations to his team against Uruguay, but having seen that side more than hold their own in that game, he could be tempted to retain many of those players.

If that is to be the case, veteran frontman Roque Santa Cruz may be named a substitute once again.

Brazil possible starting lineup:
Jefferson; Alves, Miranda, Thiago Silva, Luis; Elias, Fernandinho; Willian, Coutinho, Robinho; Firmino

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Villar; Caceres, Da Silva, B Valdez, Piris; Bobadilla, Ortigoza, Benitez, Molinas; Valdez, Barrios


Head To Head

Paraguay may have tasted defeat on 47 occasions against Brazil, winning just 12 games themselves, but they are bound to be confident ahead of this clash.

That is because they met the Brazilians twice in the Copa four years ago and lost neither of those encounters.

The two teams played out a 2-2 draw in the group phase, which could have been even better for Paraguay had Fred not scored a last-minute equaliser for the Yellows.

They then met again in the quarter-finals, when after a 0-0 draw, the Paraguayans advanced courtesy of a 2-0 penalty shootout win.

Justo Villar, who will keep goal this time around, only had to make one save, with the other three Brazilians - one of whom was Silva - missing the target.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Brazil 0-1 Paraguay

In most knockout rounds there is a shock result, and it could well happen in this match. Brazil have played well in patches, which assuming that Paraguay continue their recent form, will not be enough to win through. Missing a player of Neymar's quality will not hurt against the likes of Venezuela, but it will against better opposition, which Paraguay certainly will provide. With strikers in form, Paraguay can knock Brazil out of the Copa for the second tournament running.


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Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain celebrates with teammates Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi and Lucas Biglia after scoring the opening goal against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final in Brasilia on July 5, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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