Group B winners and Copa invitees Mexico will face Paraguay in the third quarterfinal of the Copa America in the city of Maturin. Coach Hugo Sanchez appears to have done a good job with his side, and a win against Paraguay will see them move into the last four.
Mexico came into this tournament after a loss in the Gold Cup final. A few players opted of the Copa due to exhaustion, and yet El Tri topped a group which included Brazil. They shocked Brazil 2-0 in their first game, and then beat Ecuador 2-1. They ended their group fixtures with a goalless draw against Chile. Sanchez chose not to play some of his key players against Chile. Nery Castillo has been Mexico’s star in this tournament. The Olympiakos forward has been a constant threat to the opposition, having scored two goals already. His surging runs down the flanks can make defenders break into a sweat. Guillermo Ochoa has done an excellent job in goal over the three games. Rafael Marquez has marshaled the defence well, and the Mexicans conceded only goal in the full tournament- a late goal to PSV and Ecuador midfielder Edilson Mendez.
Paraguay have done remarkably well in this tournament. They beat Colombia 5-0, delt the same to the USA 3-1 and lost to Argentina 0-1. Gerardo Martino’s team has scored 8 goals in this tournament, only second to Argentina. Roque Santa Cruz and Salvador Cabanas have scored 3 goals apiece in this tournament. They have taken advantage of the defensive frailties in other teams- the three goals that they scored in the last ten minutes against Colombia was an example. Mexico will prove to be tough competition, but having played Argentina, La Albirroja will have an idea of how to combat Mexico. Paraguay have never played in Maturin, but Mexico have, against Ecuador. Combating Nery Castillo and company will be a major headache for captain Julio Caceres.
This is an interesting game to predict. Paraguay went out at this stage in the last edition of the tournament to Uruguay. A win here will in all probability set a repeat clash against Argentina in the semifinal. Tough one to predict, but Mexico should sneak through. Nery Castillo to score.