Copa America 2011 Semifinals, Paraguay Vs. Venezuela: Preview

This semifinal was supposed to be a thrilling match up between Brazil and Chile. Attack versus attack. Skill versus skill. Flair versus flair. It was going to be one of the highlights of all of Copa America, but Paraguay and Venezuela had to go and ruin the party. Paraguay defeated Brazil on penalty kicks and Venezuela took down Chile, 2-1, to knock the favorites out and set up a semifinal of two surprising teams.

Most thought that Paraguay were a solid team with the chance to pull an upset and go deep into the tournament, but they would do it with their attack. They would score goals and overwhelm opponents with what they had in the middle and attacking third, not what they had in the defensive third. Then they went out and kept a Brazil team that has started to find their attacking rhythm scoreless for 120 minutes before defeating them in penalties. Make sense? Not at all, but they did it.

Now they'll have to stifle Venezuela. That sounds weird, but the Venezuelans have five goals in their last three matches. That includes their 3-3 draw with Paraguay in their final group stage match that saw Venezuela score in the 89th and 90th minute to come back and earn a point. If Venezuela are to win they'll need a top performance from Nicolas Fedor because he's the only player who has looked the slightest bit dangerous going forward. Everything else has been opportune attacking, especially on set pieces.

Gabriel Chichero and Oswaldo Vicarrondo have anchored the Venezuela defense and they'll have to be strong again against Paraguay. The Paraguayans are certainly the favorites, but they've been dysfunctional at times in the tournament, especially at the back so yet another upset in this Copa America isn't out of the realm of possibility.

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