Almiron, the subject of transfer rumors this week, is yet to be among the goals in Paraguay’s 0-1-2 start to the tournament, but he set up the two of the three and Thursday would be a heck of a time to score his first international goal on the occasion of his 18th cap.
That’s easier said than done; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, and Filipe Luis are set to man Brazil’s back line, with Arthur and Allan in front of them.
A report last week claimed that Real would look at Almiron if its unable to land a playmaker like Paul Pogba or Neymar. Could all these things conspire to make Almiron’s tenure at Newcastle just a half season?
“No, I do not know anything about that,” Almiron replied. “For me it’s an honor that a team like that [Real Madrid] looks at me, but I’m not aware of anything and now I’m focused on the Copa America, and then Newcastle.”
The Magpies are again in limbo, with Benitez leaving and a mysterious takeover bid from the Middle East leaking few details after a hot and heavy debut.
Argentina bounced back from a defeat and a draw in their first two games to avoid what would have been an indefensible disaster — failing to advance from the group — by beating Qatar 2-0 in the two sides’ Group B finale.
Lautaro Martinez scored what turned out to be the game-winner after just four minutes. Qatar attempted to play the ball out of the back, but a pass from a Qatari defender was badly mishit and went straight to Martinez, who was quick to corral the ball and run it down for a one-time finish from just inside the box.
Sergio Aguero put the game to bed with a brilliant individual goal in the 82nd minute. After receiving the ball 40 yards from goal, Aguero bust forward and went past two defenders in a flash before picking out a small window to hit with his left-footed finish from 12 yards out.
Up next for Lionel Messi and Co., is a quarterfinal tangle with Venezuela.
Colombia 1-0 Paraguay
Having already secured a place in the quarters, Colombia finished group play with a perfect nine-point record and locked up first place in the group edging past Paraguay.
Gustavo Cuellar bagged the game’s only goal in the 31st minute, when he snuck the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs from an impossibly tight angle.
Colombia finished Group B with three victories, by way of four goals scored and zero goals conceded.
Monday’s Copa America schedule
Chile v. Ecuador — 7 p.m. ET
Ecuador v. Japan — 7 p.m. ET