Brazil vs Paraguay: Copa America host out for revenge as knockout phase begins

Brazil continues its quest for Copa America glory with a quarter-final tie against Paraguay, which has eliminated it twice in eight years.

Brazil players celebrate   -  Getty Images

Tournament host Brazil is out for redemption as it takes on Paraguay in the first of 2019 Copa America quarterfinals.

Eight-time winner of the competition Brazil has been eliminated at this stage by the same opponent in its last two knockout-round involvements, both times on penalties.

Brazil failed to make it as far as the last eight in the United States three years ago but it has less trouble progressing this time around, sealing top spot in Group A with a resounding 5-0 victory over Peru in its final group game.

Tite's decision to shake up his attack paid off in Sao Paulo as Casemiro and Roberto Firmino put the host 2-0 up, and further goals followed from star man Everton, captain Dani Alves and substitute Willian.

And after being jeered by supporters in its first two matches - a disjointed 3-0 win over Bolivia and a goalless draw with Venezuela - Tite admitted favourite Brazil cannot afford to drop its levels following the confidence-boosting victory over Peru.

"It was one of our best games," he said. "It is a game that must be continued.

"We are here to win and we want to play good football. We want to do the best and we are happy about it."

Paraguay finished runners-up in 2011 and reached the semi-finals in 2015, but it has been given far less hope of knocking out Brazil this time around.

Eduardo Berizzo's side is the first team to advance past the group stages of a Copa America with only two points since three points for a win was introduced in 1995, progressing through as one of the best third-place finisher.

But Berizzo felt Paraguay was worthy of a place in the last eight as its performances against Qatar, Argentina and Colombia deserved more.

"Hopefully we can start a totally different Copa America in the next phase," he said after the 1-0 loss to Colombia on Sunday. 

"I hope we are rewarded for our two good matches, or two-and-a-half very good matches."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil - Everton

Everton has been the impact player for Brazil in 2019 Copa America.   -  Getty Images

 

The Gremio forward was handed a start against Peru after impressing as a sub in Brazil's first two matches and he more than justified his selection with his goal and all-round play, which should be enough for him to retain his place out wide.

Paraguay - Miguel Almiron

Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron   -  Getty Images

 

Newcastle United's club-record signing assisted goals in Paraguay's first two matches but had far less impact against Colombia last time out, managing just one shot of any note. Far more will be expected on Thursday.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil has lost only two of its 38 home matches against Paraguay in all competitions (26W 10D). Those defeats were in August 2002 (1-0) in an international friendly and in May 1949 (2-1) in Copa America.
- Brazil will play in the Copa America quarterfinals for the 10th time since the introduction of the current format (1993).
- Brazil has kept a clean sheet in all its games at this tournament (2W 1D) - its longest such run in the competition since 1997.
- Paraguay has won only one of its last 20 games in the competition (11D 8L) - 1-0 against Jamaica in 2015.