Colombia v Paraguay: James warns there is a long way to go

By Sports Desk June 22, 2019

James Rodriguez has targeted victory over Paraguay in Colombia's final Group B outing to maintain his side's momentum heading into the Copa America knockout stages.

The 2001 champions are already assured of a place in the quarter-finals after following up a 2-0 win over Argentina in their opening match with a 1-0 success against Qatar.

Duvan Zapata settled a scrappy encounter against the Asian champions with a late header to leave Colombia with six points from six ahead of their meeting with Paraguay, who are four points adrift in second place after back-to-back draws.

Boss Carlos Queiroz has the chance to rotate his side at Arena Fonte Nova - with goalkeeper David Ospina a confirmed absentee - knowing that Los Cafeteros cannot be caught no matter what happens when Qatar and Argentina face off in the other Group B match on Sunday.

But James admits there is still a long way to go as Colombia target a fifth consecutive win ahead of a quarter-final tie against either Chile, Uruguay or Japan.

"We're on the right track but we're still a long way from achieving all we really want," said James, who is heading back to Real Madrid after a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Paraguay feel hard done by on the back of their draw with Argentina, as Derlis Gonzalez was denied by Franco Armani from the penalty spot with the scores locked at 1-1.

"I would not like to look pretentious, but I think we lost two points," boss Eduardo Berizzo told reporters after the match.

La Albirroja are now winless in nine Copa America games and have won only one of their last 19 such outings - a run they will likely have to end if they are to join their opponents in the last eight.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia - James Rodriguez

The star of the 2014 World Cup created seven chances against Qatar - the most for a Colombian player in a single game in the last four editions of the competition - including an impressive cross for Zapata's 86th-minute winner.

Paraguay - Miguel Almiron

Newcastle United's club-record signing set up Richard Sanchez's opener against Argentina, adding to his assist for Gonzalez against Qatar. He has created six chances in this year's tournament - twice as many as any other Paraguay player.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Colombia have won five of their last six games against Paraguay in all competitions, but they lost the most recent clash - 2-1 at home in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
- Colombia and Paraguay have met on 10 occasions in the history of the Copa America - Los Cafeteros have won four and La Albirroja five (D1).
- Colombia have kept a clean sheet in only one of their nine neutral venue games against Paraguay (W2 D2 L5).
- Colombia attempted 13 more shots than Qatar in their last game (20-7) - the biggest difference in favour of Los Cafeteros in a Copa America fixture since the first matchday of the 2011 edition, against Costa Rica (27-5).

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