Paraguay and Colombia will both look to bounce back to winning ways after disappointing runs of form when they face off in World Cup Qualifying action on Monday.
The hosts lost 2-0 to Ecuador on Thursday, giving their qualification bid a major hit, while their visitors were held to a 1-1 draw by Bolivia.
Paraguay began their World Cup Qualifying campaign in impressive fashion last year, starting with draws against Peru and Argentina and a 1-0 away win over Venezuela to put themselves at the top end of the South American group.
Eduardo Berizzo’s side then remained unbeaten until they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Brazil in the final game before this summer’s Copa America.
La Albirroja earned victories over Bolivia and Chile to finish third in their group and advance to the quarter-finals to take on Peru, but they fell just short in a penalty shootout after Gabriel Avalos had kept their hopes alive with a 90th-minute equaliser to see the game end 3-3.
Nonetheless, they gave a good account of themselves on the continental stage and would have returned to action on Thursday with confidence, only for late goals from Felix Torres and Michael Estrada to snatch all three points for Ecuador.
Having now suffered two consecutive defeats in World Cup Qualifying, Berizzo’s men will be keen to get back on track and climb back up the table as they push to reach their first World Cup since 2010.
They take on a Colombia side who will look to kick into gear after a somewhat disappointing result last time out, leaving them in fifth spot.
Similarly to Monday’s opponents, La Tricolor started well in the World Cup Qualifiers, beating Venezuela 3-0 and drawing with Chile, before they suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Uruguay and Ecuador, with the games finishing 3-0 and 6-1 respectively.
Reinaldo Rueda’s men found another patch of form after that, thrashing Peru 3-0 and holding Argentina to a draw, before they reached the semi-finals of the Copa America in the summer, by squeezing through the group stage and defeating Uruguay on a penalty shootout.
La Tricolor met Argentina in the semi-final, and Luis Diaz drew them level after Lautaro Martinez’s early opener to take the game to a shootout, but Rueda’s men would not prevail again as they were dumped out by the eventual winners, with Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona all denied from 12 yards.
They would have hoped to bounce back in style when they took on Bolivia as heavy favourites on Thursday, with the chance to climb the qualifying table, and they looked set to see out a 1-0 victory after Roger Martinez’s 70th-minute opener, only for Fernando Saucedo to hit the equaliser and snatch a point for the hosts in the final 10 minutes.
Following that relatively disappointing performance, La Tricolor will go in search of their third win of the World Cup Qualifying campaign, as they look to establish themselves at the top end of the South American table.
Paraguay World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Paraguay form (all competitions):
Colombia World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Colombia form (all competitions):
We say: Paraguay 1-1 Colombia
While Colombia’s side is certainly not short of talent, and they come into Monday’s game as favourites, they have often struggled to get over the line with this squad, suggesting a deeper issue may be at play.
We do not see them losing on their travels but are backing the hosts to take a point from a Tricolor side that is not playing to its full potential.