Paraguay have entered the final of the Copa America, and will challenge Uruguay on Sunday, as they bid for their third title. Curiously, Paraguay have not won a single match in their five games en route, winning both quarter-finals and semi-finals, via penalty kicks, against Brazil and Venezuela respectively.
The hero of Paraguay’s resilience in this year’s edition of the Copa America has been goalkeeper Justo Villar who oversaw two spot kick finishes that went in his team’s favour.
Earlier, Villar kept clean slates in both the quarter-final and semi-final games. A cynic might credit Paraguay’s journey to the final to pure luck but that would not be doing justice to Villar who kept his nerve in penalty shoot out pressure cooker situations, twice. Three brilliant saves against Lucio, “Paro” and “Ganso” gave Paraguay victory against Brazil; in the Venezuela game, Villar saved Franklin Lucena’s effort, to ease his side into the final.
Thirty-four year old Villar began his professional career with Club Sol de America, in 1996, and honed his keeping skills under the watch of legendary keeper Ever Hugo Almeida. consecutive national championship wins with Club Libertad for whom he played from 2001, got Villar a contract with Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys, in 2004. The side won the 2004 Aperture championship title in Villar’s first year with them; the same year also witnessed the print media award of Paraguayan Goalkeeper of the Year, to Villar.
Four years later, in 2008, Villar got a taste of La Liga action when Spanish club Real Valladolid made a bid for the keeper, who got 15 first eleven starts for the club in the absence of Sergio Asenjo due to injury. In the next two years, Villar competed for a pot in the first eleven, with Jacobo. after Valladolid were relegated to the second division, Villar got back to South America, when he joined Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata, in 2011, on a three-year contract.
Villar joined the senior Paraguay team in 1999, two years after he played for his country in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship. He found a place as second keeper, backing up Jose Chilavert, in Uruguay’s squad to the 2002 world cup. In the 2006 edition, he was the automatic first choice, in the opener against England, during which he got injured and had to sit out the rest of the tournament.
The 2010 world cup marked the pinnacle of Villar’s international career, where he conceded only two goals in the five matches Uruguay played upto the quarter-finals and got selected as captain of the team. If Paraguay are to beat favourites in the Copa America final on Sunday, they would need Villar to play a big hand, in the win.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Copa America Semi-Final Preview: Paraguay Vs Venezuela | July 22, 2011
- Copa America Final Preview: Paraguay Vs Uruguay | July 22, 2011