Mexico 6 – 0 Paraguay
It rained. Rained goals.
Mexico wasted no time in capitalizing off of Paraguay’s numerous errors to win in dominating fashion.
Nery Castillo murdered Paraguay.
Two minutes into the game Caceres does his best Jonathan Bornstein impersonation making a sloppy and amateurish back pass. Nery sprints and picks up the ball before the keeper can get there and Bobavilla can’t avoid the takedown. Penalty for Mexico. Red card for Bobavilla. The Guarani coach Gerardo Martino sends in their third goalkeeper but he stood no chance against Nery on the penalty kick. Mexico 1 – Paraguay 0. A difficult start for Paraguay.
It would only get worse for them.
Playing a man down there was tons of space on defense and this was only exacerbated because Caceres and Barreto both played terrible. Nery was unselfish giving his teammates three scores – of which only one was properly finished (another was erroneously called an offsides, the other was missed horribly wide by Correa). The good karma would return back to Nery as he received a lob pass which he elegantly nailed for the 3-0. It was halftime in the game, but fulltime for Paraguay’s hopes of winning La Copa.
The second half brought some changes to both teams. Nery going out with a small injury and Paraguay making tactical changes, as only Cardozo was a threat to score early on – not Roque Santa Cruz nor Cabañas. The Paraguayans were more organized in the second half, and actually managed to look like professionals and not kids playing after school. Barretto and Santa Cruz both had great chances to score but their attacking spirit was more spiritual than anything. They would never have a chance to really get back into this game.
Paraguay is a completely different team from several years back. A casual fan who hasn’t seen any of their games lately might keep thinking this is a defensive powerhouse, relying on counterattacks and long balls to score. Gone are those days. Because gone are Chilavert and Gamarra, a tough as nails keeper and a world class defender. The team now relies on a more open attack because their defense isn’t a shadow of what it once was. We saw this today. Of course, it never helps when you go down a man – and a goal – two minutes into a game, but the old Paraguay wouldn’t let that be. A sad end of the tournament for them and for Bobavilla who was surprisingly good in the minutes he played.
Mexico advances to the semifinals comfortably, with their only question being whether they are Nery Castillo + 10, or an actual team to beat. I’m sure that question will be answered when they meet Argentina.
Nery Castillo. F, Mexico.
Could it have been anybody else? No. Nery, Robinho and Riquelme have been making a name for themselves in Copa America.
The Ugly Duckling
Julio Cesar Caceres. D, Paraguay.
Left his keeper Bobavilla out to try and all in all had a horrible first half.