What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Paraguay vs Spain (Quarter-final)
When: Saturday 3rd July, 2010, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Chance to Make History

Paraguay held on for 90 minutes against Japan, before they eventually dispatched the Asians via a penalty-shootout by five strikes to three. Now, the South Americans have managed to record their best result in their World Cup history by booking a place in the quarter-finals.

As the pool of teams becomes ever slimmer and the only ones left are the big boys, Paraguay need something extra special to go further in the competition. Perhaps Larissa Riquelme, the Paraguayan model has already offered her nation a hand by vowing to strip naked should they beat La Roja.

On the pitch, La Albirroja have been full steam ahead with their training. Coach Gerardo Martino has been mostly focusing on speeding up his team’s tempo, a sign perhaps of Paraguay’s reliance on counter attacks, while urging his side employ constant pressing on Spain’s Xavi and Andres Iniesta, in other words, their foe’s engine room.

One Obstacle at a Time

On Tuesday night, David Villa’s sole strike was enough to see Spain’s Iberian neighbours Portugal crash out of the tournament. On 42 goals, the Asturias-born forward is now just two marks shy of Spain legend Raul, all while having played appeared in 40 less internationals. It seems as if it’s a foregone conclusion that Villa will break this record by the time Spain have packed their bags to go home.

One debate that has exploded lately is that of Fernando Torres’ fitness. After the Liverpool striker made way for Fernando Llorente, Spain’s play automatically improved. Spanish tabloid AS conducted a survey, asking just who Villa’s partner should be, and it is no surprise that the towering Basque is leading the charts with 69% of the votes at the time of writing.

Coach Vicente del Bosque, however, has made it clear that Torres is untouchable and the Spanish coach is certain to start him.

Recent form

Italy 1-1 Paraguay (14/06; World Cup – Group F
Slovakia 0-2 Paraguay (20/06; World Cup – Group F)
Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand (24/06; World Cup – Group F)
Paraguay 0-0 Japan (5-3 on aggregate; 29/06; World Cup – Round of 16)

Switzerland 1-0 Spain (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)
Spain 1-0 Portugal (29/06; World Cup – Round of 16)

Players to watch

Paraguay – Justo Villar: The custodian was largely untested during the Japan match, only coming under the spotlight during the penalty shoot-out. Now, after some rest, he will face one of the tournament’s strongest attacking teams, and will have to keep the likes of Villa and Iniesta at bay.

Spain – David Villa: After scoring in all of Spain’s wins so far, it’s Villar versus Villa. The new Barcelona striker is hands down Spain’s best player during this tournament, with his presence in the box being a source of nuisance for all defenders. He will lead the Spanish assault on the Paraguay goal in a bid to fire his team into the semi-finals.

Match prediction

Of all the heavyweights left in the World Cup, La Seleccion have arguably the easiest tie. That won’t mean, however, that the match will be a walk in the park for them. The current European Champions have yet to hit full stride, and a shaky start could see them have a setback. Expect Paraguay to offer the Spaniards a hard time, but Spain will have what it takes to overcome their adversaries and continue their quest to win their first ever World Cup.

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