Colombia (-115) vs Paraguay (+385), Draw (+230)
Colombia (1-0-0, 3 points) got off to a great start at the Copa America Centenario by beating the host Americans (2-0). Another win tonight (10:30 PM Eastern at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena) will see them punch their ticket to the knockout stage, but they will face a much different challenge in the form of defensive-minded Paraguay (0-0-1, 1 point).
Colombia rolled past Team USA last Friday. Cristián Zapata put the team on the board in the eighth minute; James Rodríguez sealed the deal later in the first half on a penalty (42′).
The 2-0 scoreline actually flattered the Americans; Colombia had several other chances to increase the lead and looked superior on both sides of the ball, especially on the attack.
The win came at a price, though. James is doubtful for tonight after dislocating his left shoulder. He will be a gametime decision; if he can’t go, then Dayro Moreno will take his place. Moreno is more of an attacker than a midfielder but has enough talent to replace James.
“Dayro Moreno has projection and good pace that allows us to use him in that position with good results. We think he is a versatile player, he can also help at the back”, said Colombia’s assistant manager Nestor Lorenzo in a pre-game press conference.
Unsurprisingly, Paraguay played to a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica in their opener. They played a solid defensive game, as they almost always do, but they will eventually need to find some scoring if they’re going to move on and make some noise in the tournament.
Don’t expect them to throw caution to the wind tonight, though. They know that Colombia are the cream of the crop in Group A and will likely be satisfied with another 0-0 draw, pinning their hopes on a win over the Americans in their final group stage game.
Getting that draw will be easier said than done, of course. Not only does the Colombian team appear to be on form, but they’ve dominated Paraguay in the recent head to head, winning five of the last six (5-0-1).
Even without James in the lineup, Colombia are the superior team and one of the favorites in the tournament. They’ll find scoring chances harder to come by tonight, but should come on top.
Pick: Colombia (-115).
(Photo Credit: Danilo Borges, CC BY 3.0 br [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en], via Wikimedia Commons.)