FRANKFURT, June 11 (Reuters) - For the first 20 minutes of their 1-0 defeat by England on Saturday Paraguay resembled a side not really believing they were ready to mix it with the heavyweights of world football.
Once they had shaken off their inferiority complex, however, they played with an aggression and confidence that leaves them hopeful of sticking around in Germany beyond the first round.
With Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago drawing 0-0 in the other Group B fixture, the South Americans know victory over the Swedes in Berlin on Thursday would put them right back in contention.
'The game against Sweden will be like a final for us, if we lose we should just start packing,' Werder Bremen forward Nelson Valdez said after Saturday's defeat in the Waldstadion.
'To lose is never good but I believe that we had a good match against England. With this positive thinking we'll go back to the training camp to work so we can face Sweden the same way we played during the second half here.
'In the beginning we gave them a lot of time and space and were a bit nervous. Only when we realised that we could play our own style did we play like equals.'
The damage was done for Paraguay in a torrid opening spell in which captain Carlos Gamarra deflected David Beckham's free kick into his own goal and then goalkeeper Justo Villar had to go off with a leg injury that will end his tournament.
Valdez was Paraguay's main attacking threat but despite lots of possession for the South Americans there were few chances for him and strike partner Roque Santa Cruz.
'We need a bit more help up front, we had a lot of balls but only Roque and I against four and we didn't really have any chances,' Valdez said.
Villar's replacement Aldo Bobadilla made impressive saves to keep Paraguay in the game against England and said he was ready to seize his chance.
'It was a big blow for the whole team when Justo went off,' said the 30-year-old who was considered only third choice when the Paraguay squad was announced.
'But I believed I played well. I got a lot of support from the players and the coach and now I have to do my best so we can get into the second round.
'Certainly, if we move the ball like we did in the second half against a powerhouse like England we can beat Sweden.'
Paraguay, who have reached the last 16 at the two previous World Cups, finish their Group B fixtures against Trinidad & Tobago on June 20 in Kaiserslautern.