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Jun 20, 2015 at 8pm UK at Estadio La Portada, La Serena
Gimenez (29')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Barrios (44')

Preview: Uruguay vs. Paraguay

Sports Mole looks ahead to the final Group B encounter between Uruguay and Paraguay at the Estadio La Portada.

Uruguay and Paraguay head into their third and final group encounter at the Estadio La Portada with aspirations of advancing through to the quarter-finals as pool winners.

Of course, Argentina, who take on Jamaica in Group B's other match, will have something to say about that, but were they to slip up against the men from the Caribbean, the winner of this game in La Serena will finish top of the pile.


Uruguay's coach Oscar Tabarez sits on the bench during a Group D football match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

Before the tournament got underway, those in the Uruguayan squad could have been forgiven for feeling slightly invisible.

After all, many of the column inches in the days leading up to the start of this Copa America were devoted to Luis Suarez, who despite being the nation's leading goalscorer of all time, is not in Chile due to his suspension for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at last summer's World Cup.

But, during their two outings so far, La Celeste have done little to take the attention away from the absent Barcelona talisman.

They were perhaps lucky to record a 1-0 win over minnows Jamaica first time out, while they missed a handful of chances - many of which Suarez may well have converted - during the 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Argentines.

Those results mean that the defending champions are now sweating ever so slightly on their place in the last eight of the competition.

A draw would probably see them advance as one of the two best third-placed finishers, while a win would secure their spot automatically. However, a loss would leave them hoping that the nations finishing third in the other two groups have fewer points than themselves.

They can at least boast some positive Copa America form, with that loss to the Argentines their first in seven outings.

Recent form: DWWWWL


Paraguay's midfielder Victor Caceres celebrates after scoring a goal during the international friendly football match France vs Paraguay, on June 01, 2014© Getty Images

It would be fair to say that there was not much optimism surrounding the Paraguayan national side heading into this tournament.

Three head coaches came and went as the Red and Whites made a hash of qualification for the 2014 World Cup - the first time that they had failed to qualify since 1994.

The Football Federation turned to Ramon Diaz for help, but he had just three games in charge before the Copa got underway, none of which Paraguay won - drawing twice and losing once.

However, whatever Diaz has worked on with the players between those matches and now has worked. They battled back from two goals down to claim an unlikely point against Argentina in their first group outing, while Edgar Benitez scored the only goal of the game to secure all three points against Jamaica.

It means that the 2011 finalists have all but secured their spot in the quarter-finals, it's just a matter of deciding whether they finish first, second or third.

Their Copa America form is positive, having lost none of their previous eight matches - a run that dates back to 2007.

Recent form: LDLDDW

Team News

France's defender Bacary Sagna (L) vies with Paraguay's forward Roque Santa Cruz (R) during their international friendly football match France vs Paraguay, on June 01, 2014 © Getty Images

Nelson Valdez may have scored one of the goals against Argentina, but there is every chance that he will have to settle for a place among the substitutes once again.

The experienced Roque Santa Cruz should keep his place in attack, while veteran Paulo da Silva will lead the defence.

As for Uruguay, they have struggled for goals so far, which could lead to youngster Diego Rolan being dropped.

There are a number of options to replace the 22-year-old, with Hull City frontman Abel Hernandez in contention.

Uruguay possible starting lineup:
Muslera; A Pereira, Gimenez, Godin, M Pereira; Sanchez, Arevalo, Lodeiro, Rodriguez; Hernandez, Cavani

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Silva; Bruno Valdez, Da Silva, P. Aguilar, Samudio; Gonzalez, V Caceres, Ortigoza, Benitez; Santa Cruz, Bobadilla

Head To Head

As far as previous meetings go, there is not much to split these South American rivals.

Uruguay have won 30 matches to Paraguay's 25, while there have also been 16 draws to throw into the mix.

Perhaps the most famous clash was in the final of the Copa America four years ago, when the Uruguayans ran out 3-0 winners, thanks in part to a brace scored by the retired Diego Forlan.

The Sky Blues have actually had the upper hand recently, losing just once in the last seven games between the pair.

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We say: Uruguay 1-1 Paraguay

We've seen many times at previous international tournaments that when a draw will allow both teams to qualify, that is often the scoreline that is played out. It could be the same story here, with both unlikely to commit too many players forward in case they concede a potentially crucial goal at the other end.

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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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