Colombia Prepares for Match Against Paraguay
Sticking out his chest, a few days after defeating Brazil in the Metropolitan of Barranquilla stadium on Matchday 5 of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers, Colombia arrives in the Paraguayan capital with the intention of maintaining their good form and solidifying their position as the third-place team.
Breaking the Curse of the Venezuelan Referee
In addition to facing a strong Guaraní team, which recently drew 0-0 with Chile in Santiago, Colombia must also overcome the curse of Venezuelan referee Jesús Valenzuela. In the five games he has officiated for Colombia, they have never managed to secure a victory.
The most recent encounter between Valenzuela and Colombia was on Matchday 2 of the current World Cup Qualifiers, resulting in a 0-0 draw against Chile.
Valenzuela’s unfortunate record with Colombia began during the road to Russia 2018, with a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Barranquilla on September 5, 2017.
He is also remembered for the Copa América semifinals in 2021, where Valenzuela allowed Argentine goalkeeper Dibu Martínez to handle the penalty shootout, leading to high tensions and heated exchanges between the Argentine and Colombian players.
However, the most painful memories for Colombia are the 6-1 defeat against Ecuador in Chile during the Qatar 2022 qualifiers, and the unexpected 0-1 loss to Peru in the same qualifiers.
Colombia, an Unbeatable Force
Colombia, led by winger “Lucho” Díaz, is the only South American team that remains undefeated in the current qualifying round. They have defeated Venezuela and Brazil, and secured draws against Chile, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
Under the guidance of Argentine coach Néstor Lorenzo since mid-2022, Colombia has gone unbeaten in 13 games, including both official matches and friendlies. Since Lorenzo’s arrival, they have achieved 8 wins and 5 draws, scoring 21 goals and conceding only 9. Their performance stands at an impressive 74.3%.
Their last encounter and victory against Paraguay dates back to November 19 of the previous year, in a friendly match held in the United States.
Team News and Lineups
For the upcoming match, Colombia will be without central defender Davinson Sanchez (Galatasaray) due to accumulated yellow cards. He will be replaced by Carlos Cuesta (Genk of Belgium), who will partner with John Janer Lucumí (Bologna) in the defense.
Additionally, winger Deiver Machado (Lens de France) will be absent from the squad due to an injury sustained during the match against Brazil. His replacement will be Cristian Borja (Sporting de Braga).
Return of an American Champion
On a positive note, Colombia welcomes back Jhon Arias, the winger from Fluminense and newly crowned champion of the Copa Libertadores. Arias was unavailable for the match against Brazil due to accumulated yellow cards.
Although Paraguay has rebuilt their traditionally solid defense led by Gustavo Gómez (Palmeiras), Colombia’s potential is strengthened by the resurgence of James Rodríguez, as well as the presence of star players such as “Lucho” Díaz from Liverpool and Santos Borré.
Paraguay: Carlos Coronel – Juan Cáceres, Gustavo Gómez, Omar Alderete, and Matías Espinoza – Andrés Cubas, Mathías Villasanti, Diego Gómez, Ramón Sosa – Gabriel Avalos and Tony Sanabria. DT: Daniel Garnero.
Colombia: Camilo Vargas – Carlos Cuesta, Janer Lucumi, Kevin Castaño, Cristian Borja – Daniel Muñoz, Andrés Mateus Uribe, Santos Borré, James Rodríguez – Luis Díaz and Jhon Arias. DT: Néstor Lorenzo.
Johan García Blandón
Sports apprentice. Passionate about sports journalism, lover of Colombian coffee.
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