The hosts, Brazil, kicks off the quarterfinals against Paraguay. Paraguay squaked into the knockout rounds after Japan and Ecuador ended in a draw and Paraguay had a better (less bad) GD than Japan. Paraguay did not look like the 8th best team in the tournament, but here they are. Miguel Almiron pulls the strings for them and they’ll hope to pull off a surprise.
Paraguay has not been one to just sit back and absorb pressure, though Qatar and Argentina out-possessed them. Brazil averaged 71% possession in the group stages and they will try and do it again. Paraguay will likely try to what they did against Argentina and allow them to have the ball when it is around midfield and with the backline and CMs but if they push up, then they’ll step to the attacker. Brazil likes to possess closer to the final 3rd or to pull near the midfield and send in a long ball down the wing. Paraguay is probably going to button down the hatches and hope to steal a goal. Almiron and whoever plays striker above him, Oscar Cardozo or Federico Santander, will have to be ready to break and quickly in order to sneak by Brazil. Brazil pushes their fullbacks up and will be beatable on the break, but Paraguay will have to be clinical to make it work.
Meanwhile, Brazil has been on a tear. After blowing out Bolivia in their first match, they stumbled with a draw against Venezuela. There was a thought that Peru, who played strong against Venezuela and Bolivia, would give Brazil a hard time and...Brazil won 5-0. Brazil could’ve won by even more goals. Brazil is not going to hold back against Paraguay either. Peru is better than Paraguay, probably, so this could be bigger than 5-0. Brazil scored eight goals in the group stage, via six different goal scorers. One of the eight is from the penalty spot. Only Everton Soares, who has one as a starter and one as a sub, and Philippe Countinho, who has one PK, have multiple goals for Brazil. The Brazil attack is a list of who’s who of dynamic attackers. With Argentina struggling, Brazil is definitely the best attack Paraguay has seen at the tournament and Paraguay’s track record is not of a brick wall. This Brazil group will likely toy around with their opponent a bit before striking.
What to Watch?
- Philippe Coutinho. The Barcelona signing was a flop for club last year but has been electric in Copa America play. He scored two goals, one via a PK, against Venezuela and another assist on a goal against Peru. Coutinho makes the attack run, he sprays balls wide, connects Roberto Firmino and the rest of the midfield, and gets his shots off. There is no one in the Paraguayan midfield that is up to the task of marking him as a floats around the field. How Paraguay decides to deny him the ball will dictate how Brazil attacks.
- Roberto Firmino, speaking of goals the Liverpool striker only has one. Similar to his play with Liverpool, he is not a true number nine nor does he do a great job of getting in behind, but he gets into attacking spaces. Brazil uses him to partner with Coutinho as more of a false nine and picking up the ball and finding others to connect with. Firmino to pair with his goal has two assists. If Coutinho is marked out of the match, Firmino will have more space to operate and may take over the center-of-the-park duties.
- Brazil’s defense has not been tested. In the group stages they saw a total of 19 shots in three games, 6.1/game, but only four of them were on target. If you only give up one shot on target a match, you have a high likelihood of keeping shutouts. Allisson has not been asked to do much but leads the tournament with three shutouts. Colombia is the only other team to keep three clean sheets, but they did rotate goalies. Brazil hasn’t been tested though and Paraguay is not likely going to test them much, but if they get one good attack, will that be enough?
How to Watch?
Brazil v. Paraguay
Location: Arena do Grêmio, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Date and time: June 27, 2019, 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: Telemundo (Spanish)
Sounder at Heart has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Sounder at Heart may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.
This is your Sounder at Heart Copa America and Gold Cup thread. Watch with us.