The road to Colombia
Given their proven track record and status as tournament hosts, Paraguay went into the South American qualifying competition as one of the favourites. A 2-2 draw with Peru was not the start they had hoped for in their group campaign, however, and though they bounced back with a 6-2 win over Venezuela, a narrow 1-0 defeat to Brazil put their semi-final place in jeopardy. La Albirroja recovered their poise to beat Ecuador 3-1 and advance to the last four, and though they passed up their first opportunity to claim a world finals ticket in a shootout defeat to Argentina, an impressive 7-2 victory over Uruguay in the match for third place booked them a slot at Colombia 2016.
Strengths and styles
Paraguay coach and two-time world finalist Carlos Chilavert has created a side in his own image: organised, balanced and combative but attack-minded with it. Led by the experienced Fabio Alcaraz and Rene Villalba, both of whom have three world finals competitions under their belts, La Albirroja have significant firepower up front in the shape of Thailand 2012 veteran Juan Salas and Richard Rejala, one of the new men to figure in a revamped squad. One of Paraguay’s strongest suits is their steely character, which saw them through some awkward moments in the qualifiers.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
Colombia 2016 will be Paraguay’s fourth consecutive world finals appearance and their sixth in all, a record that is the third best in South America behind ever-presents Brazil and Argentina. Their only absences to date came at Spain 1996 and Guatemala 2000, while their best performance was sixth at Netherlands 1989, the inaugural Futsal World Cup. The Paraguayans reached the last 16 at Thailand 2012, where they lost to Portugal and finished 12th.