Paraguay plays Uruguay tomorrow in the championship game of the Copa America tournament.
South America’s continental championship tournament, the winner earns a place in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, and continental bragging rights going forward in qualifying for World Cup 2014.
“La Albirroja” has qualified for four consecutive World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and has won the Copa America twice (1953, 1979). Coached by Gerardo Martino, the team has advanced to this year’s final by playing to five draws and winning their last two games via shootout, including a shootout victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals. 29-year-old forward Roque Santa Cruz has scored 25 goals in 89 national team appearances, and 34-year-old keeper Justo Villa is the team’s captain.
“La Celeste” is one of the most storied national sides in the world, having won two World Cups and a record-tying 14 Copa Americas. Coached by Oscar Tabarez, the team advanced to this year’ final after edging Argentina in on kicks, 5-4, in the quarterfinals and downing Peru, 2-0, in the semifinals. 32-year-old forward Diego Forlan and 24-year-old forward Luis Suarez have formed one of the most feared attacking duos in international soccer, combining to score 49 goals in 128 national team appearances.
This is not the final soccer fans had hoped for. Argentina-Brazil sparks the imagination unlike any matchup in the world today. Messi vs. Kaka and Neymar would have focused millions of sets of eyes on the Copa and made the game an absolute must-see. Instead, the soccer cognoscenti get South America’s third and fourth qualifiers in a very ‘guay Copa finale.
Prediction: URUGUAY 2, PARAGUAY 1