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Brazil vs Paraguay: Tite’s side desperate to avoid penalties

Brazil want to lay the ghosts of 2011 and 2015 to rest when they play Paraguay on Thursday night (21:30 local time) in the Arena do Grêmio.

Porto AlegreUpdate:
La Selección de Brasil quiere que los 90 minutos definan el partido

Brazil play Paraguay in the Estadio do Grêmio on Thursday night at 21:30 local time (02:30 Friday morning CEST) in the quarter-finals of the Copa América, and Tite’s side are desperate to avoid a repeat of the disasters of 2011 and 2015 when Paraguay knocked them out of the tournament on penalties. 

For this round of games in the Copa América, if the teams are level after 90 minutes the match will go straight to penalties, with extra-time only being brought into play at the semi-final stage. 

In both 2011 and 2015 Brazil faced Paraguay at the quarter-final stage. The tournament was held in Argentina in 2011 with the match between the sides being played in the Ciudad de La Plata stadium. It finished 0-0 after both regulation time and extra-time and the penalty shoot-out was an utter disaster for Brazil, coached at that time by Mano Menezes. Of the four spot-kicks they took they scored none; Paraguay went through scoring just two

The next Copa América quarter-final meeting between the sides was in Chile, on 27 June 2015 in Concepción. The match finished 1-1 after 90 minutes with goals from Robinho for Brazil (15’) and Derlis González from the penalty spot for Paraguay (72’) and with no extra-time on the menu the match went straight to penalties. Brazil, coached by Dunga, were knocked out after Douglas Costa and Éverton Ribeiro missed their spot kicks. Fernandinho, João Miranda and Philippe Coutinho all scored, but it wasn’t enough. 

Brazil will therefore go into the 2019 version of the match against Paraguay determined to win the game in regulation time and avoid the potential misery of crashing out on penalties yet again. 

These three areas are key to ensuring Brazil go through: 

Dynamism in attack 

Fluid movement up front is vital to open up the solid, well-organised Paraguay defence. Without the ball Eduardo Berizzo looks to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the double-pivot in front of the defensive line looking to shut down attacks and avoid their rivals being able to link up as they move forward. Arthur, then, will play a key role as he looks to open up spaces for Coutinho, who will be looking to run onto passes

Brazil in this tournament have been one of the sides who have held onto the ball the best in their opponent’s half and they need to maintain the effectiveness they found in their final group stage game - when they thrashed Peru 5-0 - if they want to make a fast impact on a rival who are happy to soak up pressure and frustrate opponents. 

Brazil will no doubt start with the same players up front as they did against Peru: Éverton, Gabriel Jesús and Roberto Firmino

Rhythm and intensity for a full 90 minutes 

Cléber Xavier, Tite’s assistant and the man in charge of studying Brazil’s rivals, said on Sport TV that another key factor against Paraguay is the ability to maintain the rhythm of play over the whole match, and to be able to do that it’s vital to be in decent physical shape. Brazil will need to be consistent in their play and repeat what they did against Peru - although Paraguay won’t leave nearly so much space behind the defenders, and will be far more consistent in monitoring Brazil’s attacks

Avoid physical battles and watch the long balls 

Miguel Almirón and Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo.
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Miguel Almirón and Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo.DIEGO VARAREUTERS

Paraguay play in a highly direct style: counter-attacks and a physical manner which starts with their forwards trying to win the ball and unsettle rival defenders. Brazil will need to be patient and intelligent to avoid falling into the trap of giving away fouls near their own area when Paraguay on the offensive with the 4-3-3 they use going forward. The most important thing for Tite’s men is to cover the spaces behind their left and right backs, where Paraguay will look to hurt them

The role of Fernandinho, replacing Casemiro (who is back training with the squad) will be key as he looks to assist in defence and nullify Miguel Almirón, the creator at the heart of Paraguay. Alves and Filipe Luís will be expected to help on the wings to control Dominguez or Matías Rojas - depending on who Berizzo chooses - and Derlis González on the other side.


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