Paraguay vs Venezuela by Isaiah
Just when everyone thinks the chances of Paraguay are overwritten in these qualifiers, they somehow manage to bounce back and impress again. With two consecutive victories on the road, both more than unexpected, they managed to stay alive in these qualifiers firstly winning over Chile, but then also impressing over Colombia last time out.
They got a 1:2 victory in Barranguilla over a side that was better in the first halftime and dominated, even took the lead in 77th minute via Falcao in generally more open second halftime, while the visitors took the victory close to out of nowhere, thanks to goals from Cardozo in 89th and Sanabria in second minute of additional time. They are now at seventh position with a point less than play-off placed side and two less than directly placed Colombia and in case they get a victory here, they will most likely get the fifth play-off position at least as really they would need to have unlucky development of other results to end up sixth despite the victory.
In comparison to previous few call-ups, hosts are not counting at midfielder Miguel Almiron (12/0, Atlanta United), Victor Ayala (24/1, Al-Nassr), forward Lucas Barrios (36/10, Gremio) and veteran striker Roque Santa Cruz (112/32, Olimpia) and Nelson Haedo Valdez (77/13 Cerro Porteno) who both anyway didn't play in last several months for their national team.
Venezuela, on the other side, stood without any chances to reach the play-off position or anything more meaningful long time ago, as the side sits at the rock bottom position with only nine points earned so far, which is five points less than ninth placed Bolivia.
However, must be said that the side did impress a little in last three matches played this Autumn, as they firstly managed to take a point in a goalless game against Colombia at home, then held Argentinians early in September to a 1:1 draw in Buenos Aires, finally impressing few days before this match, holding Uruguay to a goalless draw at home. Must be said that the Uruguayans didn't look that impressive in attack, but also that the slight improvement of Venezuelans was more than obvious in last three official matches.
In comparison to previous few matches, guests will miss here defenders Alexander Gonzalez (44/1, Huesca), Roberto Rosales (68/0, Malaga), midfielders Francisco Flores (28/1, Mineros de Guayana), Darwin Machis (7/0, Malaga), Adalberto Penaranda (12/0 Malaga) and forward Christian Santos (11/1, Alaves).
Paraguay is a favorite here and will probably get their victory. However, I can't see this match being very open one. Hosts did impress in attack from time to time, but should have a bit more difficult time against side that mostly defends. Importance of the game is huge and I can't see them attacking without caring much what will happen at the back.