Copa America quarter-finals: Brazil battle surprise package Paraguay
When Neymar received his ban earlier in the Copa America campaign, Brazil could have easily folded without their reliant star forward, but instead the Samba Boys have actually looked a more balanced side as they prepare for a quarter-final clash against Paraguay.
Without a doubt, Barcelona’s Neymar is the most gifted Brazilian in Dunga’s squad, but other young starlets and experienced heads have come to the fore for the eight-time winners of this prestigious competition.
Brazil are 4/1 with Coral to secure victory in 90 minutes with both teams getting on the scoresheet, and Dunga will hope his talented roster can finish off their opposition in normal time, with the lottery of a penalty shoot-out looming rather than extra-time following a stalemate.
Paraguay have been somewhat of a surprise package this summer in Chile (4/1 to win), but Brazil attacking midfielder Willian claims his side are already looking forward to a potential semi-final showdown with close rivals Argentina.
“Undoubtedly it is always great to play for Brazil against Argentina, and if it happens it will be really cool. Everyone dreams of playing against Argentina. We are getting ready for the possibility of that happening, but we must not get ahead of ourselves,” stated the Chelsea attacker.
Although, Brazil can expect a tough test from their South American counterparts, who managed to beat Dunga’s men on penalties at this stage of the competition in 2011.
“Paraguay are competitive opponents, and it will be a fight for the full 90 minutes,” Willian added. “But as a national team we know well how to play against these sides.
“In the last Copa America we were eliminated by Paraguay but I hope it can be different this time. Hopefully we can play the game the way we like, with joy and responsibility and can eliminate a tricky opponent.”
With Neymar out of action through suspension, new Liverpool signing Firmino has risen to prominence, becoming an integral part of Dunga’s side having struck in the earlier 2-1 triumph over Venezuela. The new Anfield arrival is 3/1 to fire Brazil to victory in 90 minutes in this quarter-final encounter.
Paraguay possess the firepower capable of causing Brazil an upset, but it will be an uphill battle, and their top scorer so far in the competition Lucas Barrios is sure to be a threat. The frontman, who is nicknamed ‘the Panther’ for his clinical instincts in the box, will have added motivation to knock out Brazil, having been born in Argentina. He is 11/4 to score anytime in 90 minutes.
Two-time champions Paraguay face a daunting task of thwarting Brazil’s in-form attack, with a resurgent Robinho and Liverpool menace Philippe Coutinho having run riot against Venezuela. Dunga will aim to lift his country’s first Copa America since 2007 and are 5/1 third-favourites to do so on Chilean soil.