March 29 Friendly: Mexico v Paraguay
It is always a classic tilt when the Albirroja take on El Tri in football. The two teams have played eleven times –each garnering three wins and drawing on five occasions. Interestingly, the teams have only met once in the World Cup, but it was a classic back in the first round in 1986 when Paraguay earned a tie against the host country side. Tonight’s friendly is being played in balmy Chicago and among the other reasons you should care is that it could feature Mexico defender Claudio Suarez, one of the most capped players in history. You’ll also want to tune in to my LiveBlog, which could truly be a nightmare considering the game is being broadcast in Spanish, a language in which I can order a ham and cheese sandwich but can say nothing else.
Solider Field, Chicago USA
3:00 GMT, 21:00 EST in the US
FIFA World Rankings
Mexico – 7
Paraguay – 33
Three Things You Should Know About Paraguay
Rockin’ Roque: Bayern Munich and Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz is fighting to recover from a knee injury that threatens to keep him out of the World Cup. The 24-year-old might have a future after football, however. In 2004 he teamed up with German rock band Sportfreunde Stiller to sing the words “Ich, Roque” in the song with the same title name.
Gamarra the Gamer: Paraguay captain Carlos Gamarra is no stranger to the World Cup, but he is a stranger to fouls. In 1998 and 2002, the defender played in Paraguay’s eight combined matches and did not concede a single foul. His play earned him a spot on the tournament’s 1998 all-star team.
The End of an Era: After playing for a million years, keeper José Luis Chilavert is no longer in goal for Paraguay. His legend is cemented, however, with a record 62 free kick goals to his credit. Current keeper Justo Villar is a steady presence for the Red and White.
Three Things You Should Know About Mexico
The Strength of Atlas: If you want to see the future of El Tri, keep an eye on the young players at the Guadalajara club team Atlas. Rafael Marquez, Oswaldo Sanchez and Pavel Pardo all grew up in the Atlas system, and they have been joined on the national team by 19-year-old wunderkind Andres Guardado, an exciting player on the wing.
Shooting Blancos: Fan favorite and Club America striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco has been left off the roster for this friendly and continues to face uncertainty whether he will be part of Mexico’s World Cup plans. Blanco was part of Mexico’s 1998 and 2002 teams, earning distinction for among other things being the player who scored the least while wearing white boots.
The Emperor: Claudio Suarez is second in the record books only to Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Al-Deayea with 173 international appearances. The Emperor is still kicking it at the tender age of 38.
World Cup Bob: Mexico 2-0. Paraguay have brough their ‘B’ team for this one, while Mexico have the majority of their World Cup team on hand.
Mexico Blog John: 1-1