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The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to Today: Paraguay! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.

1. They're Four Kinds of Crazy. Jose Luis Chilavert, the avowed communist nutcase, won't be in Germany this summer and we are worse off for it. Chilavert was once a top class keeper who would demand to take all his team's free kicks, scoring eight goals internationally. He also spat in Roberto Carlos' face during a qualifier, which further reenforced his world class status, naturally.

2. Welcome, Crockett and Tubbs. The city of Ciudad del Este is the third-largest tax-free zone in the world. Even better, part of the upcoming Miami Vice movie was filmed there. (Colin Farrell with a bad moustache and ponytail — awesome!)

3. Kick Your Shoes Off, Stay Awhile. In his novel At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay, John Gimlette writes: "Paraguay is not merely isolated, it is almost impenetrable. Small wonder that it has become a refuge to Nazis, cannibals, strange sixteenth-century Anabaptists, White Russians and fantastic creatures that ought long ago to have been extinct."

4. Whither Santa Cruz? Paraguay's best player (or at least biggest name), Roque Santa Cruz, is likely sidelined with an injury sustained with Bayern Munich. Reports say he's training, but who knows? ... The last two tournaments have been sheer heartbreak for Paraguay. In 1998 they lost to the hosts and eventual winners, France, on a 113th minute goal from Laurent Blanc, the first golden goal in Cup history.


(Tomorrow: Australia)