Colombia v Paraguay | Sunday 23rd June 2019, 20:00 | Premier Sports
Colombia were certainly made to sweat in their recent encounter with Qatar. A very late Duvan Zapata header proved to be the difference on the night, but Carlos Queiroz and his side breathed a huge sigh of relief come full time.
It kept in line with the string of surprises which has occurred during this 2019 Copa America so far. Venezuela holding Brazil, Japan and Uruguay ended all-square too and there is every chance there is a few more surprises still to come.
The dynamics however change when we come to the third and final group clash, as there is no longer any margin for error. That is for Paraguay anyway, as Colombia are already through and will definitely end in top spot. Expect Queiroz to rotate his side, which could make them slightly vulnerable.
A win for Paraguay would send them through, and confine Argentina to third spot at best. A draw would be enough only if Argentina fail to beat Qatar, plus there is a two best third-placed sides which also progress.
The odds are already reflecting the likelihood of Colombia making significant changes. In normal circumstances they would be clear odds-on favourites for this one. However, there are odds of 7/4 and 8/5 floating about for them to win this one. Of course, they don’t need to win, and if you are prepared to take this price on them, then I guess it depends on how much you rate Colombia’s roster. I personally won’t be touching them as this game quite frankly is of no real importance to them.
Hope for Paraguay?
Paraguay, on the other hand, have demonstrated what they can potentially offer to this tournament in their opening two group games. That is in patches at least. They began so brightly versus Qatar and should have seen the game out, but they sat back and paid the price. They would sit back versus Argentina after leading too, and they drew in the end, albeit through a Lionel Messi penalty.
Some encouragement for Paraguay is the fact they did defeat Colombia the last time these two nations met, and it was on Colombian soil as well. This was only one of two home losses Colombia suffered during World Cup qualification. Interestingly, Paraguay won away from home versus not just Colombia, but also Argentina and Chile in that group, despite failing to actually make it to Russia.
Those games were a long time ago though however, with Eduardo Berizzo instead favouring training camps rather than friendlies over time. Since World Cup qualification ended in October 2017, they’ve only played nine times, two of which were in this current Copa America.
It could be argued that the value is now gone on Paraguay. We’d be getting possibly 4/1 upon them if Colombia had anything to play for. The question is, if we are prepared to back them at around the 6/4 mark. Some bookies go a little bigger, even at 8/5, which is the price you can get on Colombia if you fish around. The market is not quite so sure what to make of this one, so I’m happy to swerve the 1×2 line.
The betting angles
Paraguay know a win definitely sends them through, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get it, even over a likely weakened opponent, but one full of players desperate to prove their worth. Paraguay ultimately are not used to winning games of football. They’ve won once in 10, and that was at home to Guatemala in a friendly. Over further time, it is just three wins in 17, and six wins in 30.
Whilst Colombia have nothing to play for, the last thing they’ll want is to lose. They’ll probably be limited without the likes of James Rodriguez on the pitch in relation to creativity, so it might be a bit more of a counter-attacking style of play that we can expect from them.
Watching Paraguay from the first two matches, they too favour themselves more on the break. Tactically, that presents something of a conundrum here, plus Paraguay will likely keep an eye on matters involving Argentina and Qatar, although they’ll probably expect Argentina to win.
To be honest, this is probably more of a game to focus on from an in-play betting perspective. However, I do fancy it to be a quite tight as Paraguay won’t necessarily know if to stick or twist to begin with. Queiroz has made Colombia harder to beat and much tighter at the back; highlighted by five clean sheets from his six matches in charge.
The Half Time Draw has to be worth a play at 11/10 (Bet365). Colombia will be much changed and Paraguay won’t need to go hell for leather to start with. This one is more likely to open up in the second half, if at all. 8/18 of Colombia’s and 9/18 of Paraguay’s World Cup qualification matches were level at the break.
The final selection is Under 2.5 Goals at 4/5 (Marathon). Six times over the last two Copa America’s has the final group fixtures featured less than three goals. You do wonder, would Colombia prefer it if Argentina came third in a best case scenario. Now, I’m not saying Colombia will be happy for Paraguay to beat them. It’s just a little side story to the final clash in Group B.