Copa America Centenario: Tough Test in Group Stage Draw For Paraguay

Ramon Diaz's men have found out their opponent for this summer's Copa America Centenario happening in the United States , and it couldn't be a better test for La Albirroja. They will facing Costa Rica, one of the top teams in CONCACAF, Colombia, one of the best sides in CONMEBOL, and the host nation. It's a good test to see them repeat their great performance in last year's Copa America in Chile, where they finished in fourth place, even defeating Brazil on the way.

Los Ticos

In the first match at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on June 4th, Paraguay will take on 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalists Costa Rica. In the eight matches between both sides in their history, Paraguay have won three, Costa Rica have won three and they drew two games. The last time these two faced in a Copa America was in Peru in 2004, where La Albirroja came as victors winning 1-0. This time 12 years later, Costa Rica comes with a strong team under Oscar Ramírez with players such as Arsenal's Joel Campbell and DC United's Álvaro Saborío, it'll be a tough first test to get three points.

Los Cafeteros

Three days later, Paraguay will travel to Pasadena, California to take on their classic South American rivals Colombia at the Rose Bowl. Despite finishing as quarterfinalists in the World Cup in 2014 and at the Copa America last year in Chile, Colombia have not had the best start in World Cup qualification for Russia 2018, only winning once, losing two and drawing once in their first four games. They will have to face Bolivia and Ecuador next month in the qualifiers before their matches in the Copa, but Jose Pekerman's side is still regarded as one of the strongest and most talented teams in the world with big name players such as James Rodriguez, Falcao, Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca among other names. Paraguay's record against them stands at 17 wins, 7 draws and 17 losses in their history.

The Yanks

Four days later, La Albirroja will travel to the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in their final match to take on the host nation, the United States. While expectations are indeed big for the host nations, the same can be said about Jurgen Klinsmann's men who is under pressure to perform well following the terrible fourth place finish at the Gold Cup last year, also on home soil. Players such as Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and others will have to be the ones that Paraguay will have to look out for. Their record against the Yanks is even with two wins, draws, and losses separating the two nations.

Reaction: Ramon Diaz

Ramon Diaz at the Copa America draw in NYC. Photo: Reuters
Ramon Diaz at the Copa America draw in NYC. Photo: Reuters

El Pelado has reacted positively to the draw stating that while it was not the ''Group of Death'' as many people are starting to state it as, he continues by saying that ''The group of death would be the group with either Argentina or Brazil, who are tough to face," but took positives from, it stating that he will face two sides that he has never faced such as Colombia and the United States ever since taking charge in December of 2014. When speaking about the host nation, he stated that it will be tough because ''it will be a good experience as the home support will be big and it will be an excellent match.''

Speaking to VAVEL at Sunday night's draw, he stated that ''it's important to consolidate the group, as we have been working for a little bit over a year now and so now we are going to develop the youth.''