WORLD CUP HISTORY: Paraguay have qualified for the World Cup for an eighth time, this being their fourth straight appearance. 2006 was a disappointment in Germany, but the team made it through to the Round of 16 in the two editions prior to that. As of yet, Paraguay have never made it as far as the quarter-finals.
QUALIFICATION: A fantastic qualifying campaign thrilled Paraguay’s fans in South America. They finished third in qualifying behind Brazil and Chile, tying the Chileans for most wins with ten. Paraguay’s campaign can be summed up by their 1-0 victory over Argentina to officially qualify for South Africa. Average teams don’t do that.
KEY PLAYER: Roque Santa Cruz. Paraguay lost a key member of their squad when star striker Salvador Cabanas was shot in January. Though Cabanas is expected to recover, he will be missed in South Africa. Nevertheless, Paraguay’s strength still lies up front, and in Santa Cruz the team has one of the world’s most enigmatic players. Injuries prevented a solid debut season with Manchester City, but if he is healthy he will be a force. Already with 20 goals for his country, expect him to add more.
EXPECTATIONS: Paraguay fits in with a deep batch of South American teams taking part in South Africa. Given their reasonable group, another Round of 16 berth is very much possible. Italy will be the main challenger for top spot in Group F, but Slovakia and New Zealand are teams Paraguay can overcome.