What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Spain vs Portugal (Last 16)
When: Tuesday June 29, 2010, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

Almost There

It wasn’t their customary brilliant football, but the Spanish nation is nonetheless very much pleased after their national team beat Chile to top their World Cup group. Vicente del Bosque’s side was far from dominant, yet they made the most of the chances that were presented and managed to leave with the spoils.

Now La Roja’s attention needs to quickly swift to their Iberian neighbours Portugal, with the war of words already well underway between Real Madrid superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. Both players are very much embroiled in an SMS war, but come kickoff, the mobile phones will have to be turned off and the one with the quickest feet this time – not the quickest finger – is likely to prevail.

Time to Shine

The stage is all set for Portugal to finally step out of their Spanish shadow and inflict a “coup de grâce” on their neighbours, knocking them out of the competition. With Spain not having recovered 100% following their 1-0 loss to Switzerland, “La Seleccao das Quinas” have the opportunity to cause La Seleccion some serious problems and deny them a quarter-final spot.

Coach Carlos Queiroz however, urged his players not to get carried away with their unbeaten record, which stretched to 19 matches after Portugal’s draw with Brazil. The former Manchester United assistant has instead told his team to show their supremacy on the pitch: “They might build up our confidence [the team record], but we cannot go to the round of 16 just with reputation and statistics. Our players have to prove their worth on the pitch."

Recent form

Spain 0-1 Switzerland (16/06; World Cup – Group H)
Spain 2-0 Honduras (21/06; World Cup – Group H)
Chile 1-2 Spain (25/06; World Cup – Group H)

Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal (15/06; World Cup – Group G)
Portugal 7-0 North Korea (21/06; World Cup – Group G)
Portugal 0-0 Brazil (25/06; World Cup – Group G)

Players to watch

Spain – Andres Iniesta: Should an absolute stranger watch Iniesta play, then they would not believe that the Barcelona livewire’s season has been hampered with injuries. Whenever confirmed to return, Andres Iniesta always plays his socks off, with his contribution in the match against Chile a fine example.

Portugal – Eduardo: The Portuguese shot-stopper is now the only goalkeeper not to have conceded a single goal since the tournament got underway. Against Spain, the 27-year-old will probably face his biggest challenge yet. Keeping a clean sheet in this bout will skyrocket his stock.

Match prediction

Although Spain are not firing on all cylinders their midweek foes aren’t really any better, with their only goals coming in their demolition of North Korea. Spain do however hold a slight edge over Portugal as they appear to improve with every minute, while the Portuguese failed to score against the other teams in their group. Expect a tight match, possibly going into extra time, with the Spaniards prevailing in the end.

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