Copa America 2011, Paraguay Vs. Ecuador: Nothing Doing In Scoreless First Half

Those looking for exciting football, avert your eyes. Paraguay and Ecuador might have had a chance here and there, but most of the first half was Paraguay passed the ball around the midfield with no idea what to do once they got into the final third then Ecuador trying to counter-attack, but doing so with two attackers versus five defenders. In short, it was an ugly first half and the 0-0 scoreline is an accurate representation of the match.

Paraguay did generate two good chances to score, but both times Marcelo Elizaga was there to deny them. The first chance came when a good run down the left unlocked the Ecuador defense and led to a free shot for Roque Santa Cruz from 15 yards, but he struck it too close to the keeper and Elizaga made the save. Not long after a cross was bungled by the Ecuador defense and Nestor Ortigoza punced. He struck a shot from close towards the near post, but once again Elizaga was there to deny him.

Of all the chances, Ecuador actually had the best one and it happened to be their only real chance of the first half. A quick counter-attack left Christian Benitez out alone up top versus three defenders, but he didn't  hesitate. He dribbled through all three to get in alone on the goalkeeper, but when he went to round the keeper, Justo Villar was able to just barely get a toe to the ball and knocked it away.

The midfield play of Paraguay has been good. They've knocked the ball around fine and any time they've given the ball up they have been quick to win it back. The problem is that Santa Cruz and Lucas Barrios, who are supposed to be Paraguay's deadly strikers, have been strangely static. They've spent too much of the match watching and many of their runs have been late.

If either team were to be picked to win then it would have to be Paraguay, but the truth is that neither team has looked particularly good. With Brazil being surprised earlier in the day in a 0-0 draw against Venezuela, the door is open for Paraguay or Ecuador to win Group B, but after 45 minutes neither looks like they will take advantage of it.

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