• Argentina take on Paraguay in their first game of Copa America 2015
  • Argentina XI: Romero, Roncaglia, Otamendi, Garay, Rojo, Banega, Mascherano, Pastore, Messi, Aguero Di Maria
  • Paraguay XI: Silva, M Caceres, Da Silva, Aguilar, Samudio, V Caceres, Ortigoza, Ortíz, Valdez, Santa Cruz, Bobadilla
  • Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria all in Argentina team
  • Paraguay were beaten finalists in 2011, and will hope to cause an upset 
  • Argentina vs Paraguay, Estadio La Portada, La Serena, kick off 10.30pm

Jonny Singer for MailOnline

The World’s best player will get his first run out at this year’s Copa America as Argentina take on Paraguay in La Serena.

Argentina will be strong favourites, with Tata Martino’s squad boasting an embarrassment of riches including Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Angel di Maria.

But Paraguay, who reached the final at the previous competition, will believe they can cause an upset once more this time around.   

Join JONNY SINGER for live coverage, with updates from MARTIN DOMIN and RIK SHARMA in Chile.

  • Jonny Singer

    Host commentator

This referee is like a kid with a new toy at Christmas. Blowing his whistle like its going out of fashion. Steady on, please.

Martin is quite right. About five free kicks in the first three minutes – none of them fouls for me!

No doubt the Paraguay game plan – everyone behind the ball for the first few minutes, but when they do get a foot in, they look to break quickly. 

The first time they are called back by the referee after Javier Pastore was adjudged to have been fouled. 

Argentina, playing in the classic blue and white stripes, get us underway. Paraguay, red striped on the front, all red on the back, yet fail to touch he ball once in the first 60 seconds. 

Respectful round of applause from Argentina supporters for Paraguay’s national anthem. Then they sing their own with vigour. Not long till kick off now. Here’s hoping this is better than Uruguay vs Jamaica.

Argentina fans wait for the beginning their Copa America campaign

It has been a while since Argentina last lifted major silverware. A whole 22 years in fact, since Gabriel Batistuta struck twice to beat Mexico and win the 1993 Copa America.

Who is the Batigol in this side? Aguero is the out and out goalscorer, while Messi carries the talismanic tag. 

Also in that 1993 side were Diego Simeone and Fernandon Redondo – Javier Mascherano and Ever Banega anyone?

National anthems time – and the Paraguayan players are, it must be said, particularly tuneless. Let’s hope they play better than they sing.

A better show from the Argentines, but then it is an easier anthem. Not a lot of players singing along!

Let’s get down to some football now shall we?

I’m always grateful to hear what you guys reading have to say, so do feel free to tweet me (@Jonny_singer) during the game, or get in touch in the comments section. 

Will Lionel Messi finally guide his side to glory? Is Sergio Aguero going to be the star? Will Angel di Maria discover his true form? Or can Paraguay cause an upset? 

Also, a reminder that if you want to watch the game, you can do so here, with Premier Sports. For just £9.99 you can see the whole tournament. 

Aside from all of those mentioned above, the Tata Martino has some real talent in his side. Javier Pastore is constantly referred to by PSG as one of the world’s best players, and with good reason, while Ever Banega could pass the ball forever and not get bored.

The only player in that starting line-up you might not be so familiar with is Fiorentina full back Facundo Roncaglia, who spent last season on loan at Genoa. This is just his fifth cap for his country.

Javier Pastore, seen in Argentina training, is a real star in this side

Where to start? How about their bench, where Champions League finalists Carlos Tevez, Manchester City defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis, perenial Premier League targets Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain and Spurs misfit Erik Lamela have all been left sitting.

Then you get to the team itself. Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo starts at the back, former Liverpool star Javier Mascherano is in midfield and how about that front three. Sergio Aguero. Angel di Maria. And Lionel Messi.

Argentina’s forwards Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero during the warm-up

Ok, so the Paraguay side may not be full of household names, but they made the final last time, they must be alright?

Well, maybe. But also, very much maybe not. They are the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, and they reached the 2011 final without winning a game. To call this a shadow of the team that reached the 2010 World Cup quarter final is an understatement.

That said, Pablo Aguilar is a versatile and classy defender, and if he can organise his backline alongside veteran Paulo Da Silva – Paraguay’s most capped player – there is some hope of stopping Argentina’s quality forwards.

Very few of the Paraguay squad play outside south America, and there are none currently in the Premier League, but that doesn’t mean you won’t recognise any of them.

Leading the line, at the ripe old age of 33, is none other than former Blackburn and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz.

‘Rocky’ also played for Bayern Munic, Betis, and Malaga before returning to Latin America, where he now plays for Mexican side Cruz Azul.

One of the intriguing sublplots in this game is the story of former Barcelona manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino.

After guiding Paraguay to the World Cup quarter final in 2010, and then taking them to the final of the 2011 Copa America, he left the country to return to club football.

‘Tata’ is now the boss of Argentina, via a disastrous spell in charge of Barca, where he is continuing to work with Messi. 

How will his former charges manage against his current side?

Argentina fans seem in high spirits, cheering every time one of their players puts the ball in the net during the warm up. Significantly more of them here than Paraguay fans too. 

Here are those teams – one may look a bit more familiar than the other, but no matter, I’ll be taking you through both line-ups shortly!

Argentina: Romero, Roncaglia, Otamendi, Garay, Rojo, Banega, Mascherano, Pastore, Messi, Aguero Di María
Paraguay: Silva, M Caceres, Da Silva, Aguilar, Samudio, V Caceres, Ortigoza, Ortíz, Valdez, Santa Cruz, Bobadilla

Only 17,000 will watch the favourites Argentina start their campaign in La Serena but the openess of the stadium with the peaks of the mountains in the distance makes it seem much bigger.

And after Uruguay laboured to victory over Jamaica, Lionel Messi and Co will be confident they have little to worry about in Group B.

Right, let’s get straight down to business. Uruguay have just limped past Jamaica 1-0, and it’s fair to say this competition has not yet fully ignited.

In fact, no team has scored in the first half of a game yet. Well, that’s all about to change. We have one of the most exciting line-ups you could ever hope to see today. 

Team news coming your way in just a moment. 

Are your mouths watering? Well they should be! The most talented squad in South America is about to get their campaign underway. And it’s going to be brilliant. 

Not convinced? Look at this picture of strangely sinister Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano. 

Now you’re convinced!



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