Our match prediction:
Only one point separates the two sides who will meet at the stadium Defensores del Chaco. Hosts head into the Chile match on the back of a disappointing spell which saw them win only two of their last ten matches across all competitions, a run which ended in a premature Copa America elimination sealed by a 1-0 to tournament’s host USA. Paraguay have won only two World Cup qualifying games so far, but their positive home form should come as an encouragement ahead of the forthcoming match. La Albirroja are without defeat in their last seven home matches and Francisco Arce will surely look to extend the trend against Chile. Paraguay are aware of the challenge however, as Chile arrive to Asuncion as newly crowned Copa America winners. La Roja lifted their second ever Copa America title after a nerve-wrecking final against Argentina, which was resolved in a similar scenario to 2015 campaign. Chile beat Argentina on penalties and will now return to World Cup qualifiers with a huge morale boost that will surely help them in their efforts to achieve the ultimate goal and secure a ticket for Russia. Currently three points behind group leaders Uruguay and Ecuador, Chile will need to win in order to remain in the race for direct promotion.
Highligted Player (Roque Santa Cruz):
Roque Santa Cruz is one of the tallest strikers for Paraguay over the years. The 34-year-old striker has last appeared for the Spanish club Malaga on loan from Mexican club Cruz Azul. The lanky striker started his career in the youth teams of Olimpia and made his first-team debut at the age of 15 in 1997. His prolific scoring record with Olimpia earned him a transfer to German giants Bayern Munich in 1999 for a fee of €5 million. The initial promise didn’t convert to reality because of a series of injuries and heavy competition from team mates. His limited impact and appearances restricted his prolific scoring although he won numerous Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles with Bayern. Santa Cruz joined Manchester City in 2009 but injuries limited his performances. He is currently the all-time leading goal scorer for Paraguay with 32 goals and also the sixth ever player to reach 100 appearances.
Highlighted Team (Chile):
The Chilean Football Federation has been established in 1895 while Chile’s first-ever international game was a 3-1 loss to Argentina in 1910. The two countries formed a remarkable rivalry over the years and it was exactly against Argentina that Chile won their last major trophy – a 2015 Copa America title. Prior to their 2015 title Chile had been runners-up in the competition on four different occasions. Chile triumphed in a dramatic final on penalty kicks to reach their first tournament championship. In a symbolic turn of events, Chile start their 2016 Copa America Centenario with a rematch against Argentina. The most capped player of the Chile national team is Barcelona goalkeeper who has past his 100-match mark with the squad he has been a part of since 2004. Former Lazio and Juventus striker, the legendary Marcelo Salas is the leading scorer with 37 goals to his name. Key player to the current set up is Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez who has been the team’s leader on the pitch since 2006.