Paraguay meets Qatar in their Copa America Group B opener at the Estádio do Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro. The match kicks off at 4:00pm local time in Brazil, which is 8:00pm in the UK. The teams will be underdogs to advance from this group, that also contains Argentina and Colombia.

Paraguay

Paraguay have entered better teams in previous Copa America’s and other major tournaments than this current crop of players, and that’s why the bookmakers have them down at 33/1 to win the tournament. In the last Copa America, they were embarrassed as they were bottom of their group, obtaining just one point from a possible 9. In 2015 Copa America, they did manage to exceed expectations by knocking out Brazil in the quarter final stage at penalties, before being decimated by Argentina 6-1 in the semi-finals. Paraguay’s biggest success in recent memory was qualifying for the World Cup quarter finals back in the 2010 World Cup, where they narrowly lost out to Spain. Paraguay have won the competition twice in their history, but the last one came back in 1979. Veteran striker Oscar Cardozo has been included in the squad, at the age of 36. Can he still make an impact?

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Qatar

Back in 2010, Qatar were announced as the hosts for the 2022 World Cup, which certainly shocked the world. Then, they were a footballing nation that had barely been heard of with a population of just over a million people. Since then, Qatar have started to make themselves a name on the world stage, with a notable victory in the Asia Cup this year, by beating Japan 3-1 in the final. A lot of the Qatari players were born in other countries, but they have a squad now which are capable of competing at the top level. Admittedly, they are at 100/1 to win the tournament, but they’ll hope to not be the whipping boys of a difficult group in Copa America. This tournament will provide them great practice ahead of their World Cup in three years’ time. In a friendly leading up to the tournament, they only lost 2-0 to Brazil. Spanish manager Félix Sánchez Bas will have taken a lot of pride from that defeat, as he now has over a week to prepare his side for a huge test.

Head to Head

It will come as no surprise that Qatar haven’t played Paraguay before in any type of match, including friendlies. Who will create history on their first meeting?

Prediction and Betting Tips

Paraguay are strong favourites at 8/13 to win the match, with Qatar priced at 19/4. For the sides to share a point apiece, that is at 12/5. The invited teams outside of South America generally don’t fare too well, and Qatar have never played a tournament outside of their own continent before. Their Asia Cup win will give them confidence, but I don’t anticipate them surprising Paraguay here. I’d pick Paraguay to get the win, and I’d go for a 2-0 score line at 5/1. To boost odds even more, you can add winger Derlis González, who plays his football in Brazil, to score first in that score line which will take the odds up to 22/1. Paraguay winning outright doesn’t offer the best odds, but you can increase your earnings if you back them to win both halves at 10/3 or to win to nil at 5/4. Finally, if you would like to back Qatar in some way, shape or form, then I’d recommend tipping them to win either half (5/2), score 1+ goals (1/1), or even to lead at half time at 11/2.

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