Paraguay will lock horns with Peru today in the Copa America third-place playoff at Concepcion’s Estadio Municipal. Both the sides are looking forward to lift themselves up after being outplayed in the semi finals.
Paraguay underwent a humiliating 6-1 defeat against Argentina in the semi final of Copa America and now Ramon Diaz’s team will look to improve their game and clinch the third place in the tournament. However the team will be without their regular forward line due to injuries.
They will play the match without the services of strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Derlis Gonzalez. Santa Cruz is suffering from a hamstring strain and Gonzalez injured his thigh within the first half of the last game at Concepcion.
Injury woes do not end here for Paraguay as media reports that Nelson Haedo Valdez and defender Bruno Valdez are recovering from a thigh problem. The only ray of hope would be defensive midfielder Nestor Ortigoza who is back in shape and looks fit after recovering from the injury in the quarterfinal match against Brazil.
After reports of injury in the Paraguayan side and the fact that they were humiliated in their last semi final encounter with Argentina, Peru would look forward to capitalise on this situation but coach Ricardo Gareca have accentuated that it will not be easy at all and expects a tough challenge from Paraguay.
“Paraguay are always dangerous, regardless of their thrashing. It’s going to be complicated game no matter the absences,” said the Peru coach.
Peru is eyeing for a third place finish for the second time in a row. In the previous version of the Copa America they finished third after outplaying Venezuela 4-1 in La Plata. Paolo Guerrero played a quintessential role in that victory as he scored a hat trick. The striker has maintained his form in this year’s version of the Copa America as he recreated the same magic in the quarter final victory over Bolivia.
There are few injury scares in the Peru side too. Striker Jefferson Farfan did not train with the team in order to rest his sprained right ankle and will undergo a fitness test. Peru will also miss Carlos Zambrano as he was sent off in the semi final encounter with Chile.
Paraguay coach said in a press conference that he is expecting a tough match. He acknowledged that Peru showed good form in the tournament and both the teams would give their best to secure the third place.
Paraguay have never played a Copa America third place game, whilst Peru have won one (2011 against Venezuela, 4-1) and have lost one (1997 against Mexico, 0-1).
Peru have won just one of their last 13 Copa America games against Paraguay (D6 L6), without keeping a single clean sheet. Indeed, that win came only because Paraguay made more than the permitted number of substitutions, so the game was forfeited (2-2).
Paraguay themselves have kept just two clean sheets in that run of games against Peru.
This will be the first Copa America game between these sides not in a group phase.
Paraguay have not lost any of their two Copa America games against Peru played in Chile (W1 D1), but they have never scored more than once in those games.
Their defeat in the semi-finals against Chile broke the longest unbeaten run for Peru in the Copa America (3, W2 D1) since the 2004 group phase, when they were the home nation (W1 D2).
Paraguay will play the third place game although they have won just one of their last 13 Copa America games (D8 L4).
The Guaranies have scored in their last five Copa America games, but in their last four matches they found the net just once (two inthe other one).
Their 6-1 loss against Argentina was the second biggest defeat in a Copa America semi-final (just behind 0-7 by Peru against Brazil in 1997).
Peru are one of the only two teams to have been benefited from an own goal in the Copa America this year, alongside Chile.
Guerrero has scored six out of the last nine Peru goals in the Copa America.
Paraguay goals in the Copa America this year have been scored, alternately, by Lucas Silva and another player (3 out of 6).
The Guaranies are the only side in the Copa America this year to have scored more than once from outside the box (3).
No Copa America side has conceded more goals this year than Paraguay (10, alongside Bolivia) and only Bolivia (2.5) have conceded more goals per game than Ramon Angel Diaz’s side (2).
Only Bolivia (24.25) have conceded more fouls per game than Paraguay (19.2).
Peru have misplaced the fewest passes per game in the Copa America this year (71.6).
No player has seen more cards in the Copa America this year than Richard Ortiz (3 yellow cards; alongside Neymar: Y2 R1).
Only Alexander Dominguez (Ecuador, 40%) has a lower save percentage than Justo Villar (52.94%) in the Copa America this year. However, no goalkeeper has made more saves to shots from inside the box in the tournament than Villar (8).
No player has made more clearances in the Copa America this year than Pedro Gallese (6, alongside Romel Quiñonez).