The road to Portugal
Paraguay made a splash with a second consecutive runners-up finish at the South American Beach Soccer Championship. Having kicked off their challenge by edging out Colombia 5-4, La Albirroja strung together comfortable victories over Chile (7-3) and Bolivia (8-5) before clinching top spot in Group A with a 9-2 rout of hosts Ecuador, who also had a perfect record going into that encounter. The Guaraníes made equally light work of Argentina in the semi-finals, prevailing 4-1 to book their ticket to Portugal. Brazil proved too strong in the final, though, and Paraguay succumbed 8-3.
Strengths and style
Paraguay's firepower has made them a force to be reckoned with for some time now and the continental championship proved no exception. Cayo Villalba's men chalked up 36 goals in all, averaging six a game – a figure bettered only by champions Brazil (eight). Their attacking efforts were spearheaded by Pedro Moran, who hit the target 11 times to finish as the event's second best scorer, while Amado Rolon and Juan Lopez also pitched in with seven goals apiece. However, the coach has really earned his spurs by instilling some extra solidity at the back. Ivan Fernandez has flourished since being handed the No1 spot and was named the goalkeeper of the tournament in Ecuador, while the steadying influence of the iconic Roberto Acuna – a veteran of three FIFA World Cups™ on grass – has added further balance.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
Though they exited at the group stage at Tahiti 2013, Paraguay gave a fine account of themselves in their maiden campaign at the Beach Soccer World Cup. Their highlight was the barnstorming win over Côte d'Ivoire, but they also held their own in defeats by Japan and Russia, in the latter instance only falling to the holders – who would go on to seal a second straight title – in extra time.