Paraguay became the second of the 16 nations participating in the 2016 Copa America Centenario to confirm a final 23-man squad for the tournament, which is set to take place this summer in the United States. While teams have until May 20 to send a final list to the organizers, La Albirroja has decided to release theirs early, just ten days after national team manager Ramon Diaz announced a provisional squad of 40 players.
Both youth and experience featured in Paraguay's squad
When comparing the names of the national team with that of last year's Copa America in Chile, 13 names remain from the 2015 squad. Among the other ten names, four have less than two caps: Juan Iturbe of AFC Bournemouth, Miguel Almirón of Lanus and Robert Piris da Motta and 18-year-old Blas Riveros of Olimpia, who became the surprise name of the final group, which was read by Santi Medina, a 12-year-old who read out the names in Braille.
Key names that were missing were Lucas Barrios of Palmeiras. A few stats have also been unveiled as goalkeeper Justo Villar will play his seventh Copa America.
"I liked how committed the players are and we have to keep them growing and continue to believe in them," stated the Argentine manager at the APF headquarters in Asuncion. Although the Copa America does not begin until June 3, Paraguay has a warm-up match against Mexico on May 28 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia Dome.
Ramon Diaz is expected to go with a 4-4-2 formation with a lineup that includes either Justo Villar or Antony Silva in goal, Bruno Valdez, Paulo da Silva, Pablo Aguilar and Miguel Samudio in the defense, Derlis Gonzalez and Edgar Benitez as the wide midfielders with Nestor Ortigoza and Oscar Romero in the central midfield and Dario Lezcano and Nelson Haedo Valdez or Roque Santa Cruz as the strikers.
In Group A, they take on Costa Rica in Orlando, Florida at the Citrus Bowl on June 4 in their first group match before traveling west to take on Colombia on June 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and finish off their group matches against the hosts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Lincoln Financial Field.
Paraguay's 23-man squad
Goalkeepers (3): Justo Villar (Colo Colo, Chile), Antony Silva (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Diego Barreto (Olimpia, Paraguay).
Defenders (7): Paulo Da Silva (Toluca, México), Gustavo Gómez (Lanús, Argentina), Pablo Aguilar (América, México), Fabián Balbuena (Corinthians, Brazil), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Miguel Samudio (América, México), Blas Riveros (Olimpia, Paraguay).
Midfielders (6): Óscar Romero (Rácing, Argentina), Néstor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar, The Netherlands), Rodrigo Rojas (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Robert Piris Da Motta, (Olimpia, Paraguay), Miguel Almirón (Lanús, Argentina).
Forwards (7): Antonio Sanabria (Sporting Gijon, Spain), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Seattle Sounders FC, United States), Edgar Benítez, (Querétaro, México), Derlis González (FC Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Jorge Benítez, (Cruz Azul, México), Darío Lezcano (FC Ingolstadt 04, Germany) Juan Iturbe (AFC Bournemouth, England).