Heading into the second leg of their round of 16 tie at the Copa Libertadores, it would take a significant collapse by Palmeiras at Allianz Parque on Wednesday for Cerro Porteno to advance into the next round.
The reigning two-time winners of this competition hold a 3-0 advantage from the opening match, as the Paraguayans seek a spot in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2019.
It is said that perfection is not attainable, although Palmeiras are proving that theory coined by legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi to be incorrect, winning every game so far in the 2022 Libertadores.
Verdao are the first team to finish the group stage with a 100% record since Boca Juniors in 2015, with the current league leaders in Brazil outscoring their opponents by a 28-3 margin in seven matches.
Finding a weakness in this squad requires a lot of hard work and research, but one area worth noting is that Palmeiras have conceded two of their three goals in this competition at Allianz Parque.
Those goals allowed have been a mere speed bump in what has been a dominant performance from them on home soil, finding the back of the net 13 times in three matches.
Abel Ferreira has moulded this unit into a team who are patient in their build-up, while defending as aggressively as any club in South America, conceding two or fewer shots on target in four of their seven fixtures so far in this competition.
While they are by no means an offensive juggernaut in the attacking third, the Palestra tactics can create a ton of confusion on opposing backlines.
Their wingers, centre-forwards and wing-backs often interchange their positions, creating overloads to one side of the field, which often allows them the openings needed to strike.
A place in the quarter-finals at the moment looks fairly bleak for the Paraguayans, who were overwhelmed by Palmeiras in the second half a week ago.
The score in the opening leg was not an indication of the game, as Francisco Arce’s men held their own for about an hour before being stunned in quick succession, conceding two goals in nine minutes.
That was the fourth time in which El Ciclon had conceded first at this competition, and this solid defensive unit have not fared well in that scenario, losing three of those four encounters.
While it does not seem plausible that Porteno will be able to reverse its current deficit, there are a couple of encouraging historical facts that could give them a glimmer of hope.
El Azulgrana were the last side to defeat Palmeiras in this round of the Libertadores, blanking them 1-0 at Allianz Parque in 2018, though falling 2-1 on aggregate.
They have also triumphed in their previous two road fixtures against Palmeiras in this South American tournament and have not lost an away fixture against the Brazilian giants in this competition since 2001.
Palmeiras Copa Libertadores form:
Palmeiras form (all competitions):
Cerro Porteno Copa Libertadores form:
Cerro Porteno form (all competitions):
We say: Palmeiras 2-0 Cerro Porteno
With a sizeable advantage heading into this leg, you might be inclined to see Palmeiras be a little more passive, but they are deceptively quick on the counter, and you rarely know when this team will attack you with numbers going forward.
We expect El Ciclon to put up a fight, but in the end, this team do not have the quality to trouble a backline, who are among the stingiest in South America.