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Lucas Barrios: La Pantera ready to pounce for Paraguay

Lucas Barrios' World Cup dream looked to be over earlier this season despite having a great campaign with Borussia Dortmund. But a happy twist to the story has now led to South Africa.

Dortmund's Lucas Ramon Barrios

Barrios has been handed a World Cup place by Paraguay

Argentina's loss looks to be Paraguay's gain. After moving to Borussia Dortmund from Chilean side Colo Colo last summer, Argentine striker Lucas Barrios started the season hoping to force his way into Diego Maradona's World Cup squad.

However, with Argentina blessed with a host of world class attacking options, La Pantera's hopes of turning out for the Albiceleste were slim at best - even before he had one of the best campaigns of his career.

But when officials with the Paraguayan national team set-up got wind of his mother's Paraguayan origins, they began sounding him out. It didn't hurt that one of his club strike partners Nelson Valdez was set to make the trip to South Africa with the Guaranies.

Rumors flew for weeks before Barrios finally applied for Paraguayan citizenship - but once he did, the BVB striker was called straight into the country's squad.

Barrios scores against Leverkusen

Paraguay's Pantera hopes to pounce with customary predatory instinct and power in South Africa

Panther strikes

A striker with lightning fast reactions, a predatory goal instinct and dominant aerial ability, Barrios was a revelation at Dortmund this season. His first year in Germany ended with him in third place in the scoring charts with 19 goals in 33 appearances, helping BVB finish fifth in the Bundesliga.

With Roque Santa Cruz short of fitness after an injury-blighted season at Manchester City, and Club America's Salvador Cabanas still recovering from being shot in the head in a Mexico City night club earlier this year, Barrios looks in good shape to be make his World Cup debut this summer for his adopted homeland.

If he slots into the Paraguay team as well as he did into Dortmund's, Group F opponents Italy, New Zealand and Slovakia could find themselves in some trouble.

Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann

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