Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz will be Paraguay's main goal threat [GALLO/GETTY]

The Albirojja reached the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Argentina last September to cap their best-ever qualifying campaign – an event that sparked a national holiday in Asuncion.

Top-scorer Salvador Cabanas will miss the finals as he recovers from a gunshot wound to the head, and his teammates will no doubt be playing with him in mind as they look to go beyond the last 16 for the first time.

Star striker Roque Santa Cruz has two mediocre seasons behind him for Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City but Argentine coach Gerardo Martino has praised his players' collective discipline and says he is confident he can "go down in history" for his achievements with the team.


Justo Villar (Real Valladolid), Aldo Bobadilla (Independiente Medellin), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteno).

Group F fixtures

Monday June 14

Italy v Paraguay 

Tuesday June 15

New Zealand v Slovakia 

Sunday June 20

Slovakia v Paraguay 
 Italy v New Zealand 

Thursday June 24

Slovakia v Italy 
 Paraguay v New Zealand


Denis Caniza (Leon), Paulo Da Silva (Sunderland), Claudio Morel (Boca Juniors), Julio Cesar Caceres (Atletico Mineiro), Carlos Bonet (Olimpia), Dario Veron (Pumas UNAM), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic)


Edgar Barreto (Atalanta), Cristian Riveros (Sunderland), Jonathan Santana (VfL Wolfsburg), Victor Caceres (Libertad), Enrique Vera (LDU Quito), Nestor Ortigoza (Argentinos Juniors).


Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City), Nelson Haedo Valdez, Lucas Barrios (both Borussia Dortmund), Oscar Cardozo (Benfica), Edgar Benitez (Pachuca), Rodolfo Gamarra (Libertad).

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies