Paraguay v Spain
Football : FIFA World Cup 2010 : Quarter Final
Saturday, 3rd June 2010 - Kickoff 8:30pm Local
Paraguay was less than impressive against Japan in the round of 16. I have to say, Paraguay did not create anything sensational in the 2 hours of football. No doubt they had a few half chances but overall a very poor display.
Goals definitely is Martino’s biggest enemy as his side just find it increasingly hard to come as the World Cups move forward to the closing stages. Martino’s side are now 210 minutes without a goal in the World Cup and this statistic is expected to increase as they face Spain.
To make matters worse for Gerardo Martino, Paraguay only managed to win two of their last 13 World Cup encounter against European teams and Spain have only conceded 3 goals against South American opposition in their last 5.
Sunderland new man Cristian Riveros has been one of the better players for Paraguay as his box to box running have been key to this Paraguay team. Lucas Barrios have been holding up balls for his teammates buying time for his defense to push up.
However with Riveros playing 2 hours of football against Japan, he definitely will struggle to run box to box as he did in the other games and Barrios will find it difficult to win balls against Pique and Puyol. Therefore, Paraguay’s defense might be facing wave after wave of Spanish attack.
Spain has been heavily criticized for their negative minded approach to the World Cup. After taking the lead in their last 2 games – Spain have sat back and pass the ball around rather than going for the kill.
Del Bosque will definitely be expecting David Villa to get him the goals as he has score 5 of Spain’s last 6 goals. However the biggest problem with Del Bosque’s attacking option is who he should start up front. Fernando Torres has yet to show anything sensational in this world Cup while Fernando Lorente who came on against Portugal had a few decent chances but squandered it.
After some weak performance in defense, Puyol and co did well to keep the Portuguese out and i do expect the same to happen again against Paraguay. Ramos will be key on the right flank as his runs has often allowed Xavi and Iniesta to drift infield.
The midfield combination of Xavi, Iniesta, Busquet and Alonso are arguably one of the best ball passes in football. Either one of them are more than capable in splitting any defense with their through ball.
Xavi will have to be watched closely as he has already made history by playing more successful passes than any Spanish player and created eight goal scoring chances(against Portugal) in a single game in World Cup is a new record.
Probable Team Line-ups :
Likely Paraguay Starting Line-up :
Villar, Caniza, Caceres, Da Silva, Morel, Nestor Ortigoza, Vera, Reviros, Valdez, Santa Cruz and Lucas Barrios.
Likely Spain Starting Line-up :
Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Puyol, Capdevila, Busquet, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa and Fernando Torres.
The Betting Verdict :
Spain has not reached the standards they set in Euro 2008 but Spain is still a very difficult team to beat.
Spain’s ability to hold the ball and knock it around in midfield will be key in this game as Paraguay will have to chasing shadows and after playing 2 hours of football against Japan, surely the players will be tired.
Del Bosque’s decision to play Villa on the left so far has been working. As defenders are expected man-mark Villa, this leave space behind for the likes of Iniesta and Xavi to exploit.
Villa has scored Spain’s last six goals at the World Cup and he has assisted the other. This stat clearly shows how important Villa is to Spain and i can’t see what Gerardo Martino can do to stop him.
Paraguay have found goals difficult to come and with Spain almost certain to score at least once or twice, it makes me wonder where will the goals come from for Martino’s side. Roque Santa Cruz is now 799 minutes without a goal and his one and only World Cup goal came back in 2002.
Spain has the tendency to sit back and defend their lead as they did it against Chile and Portugal although their lead was only a single goal lead. However if Spain scores early, do expect Spain to score a few more.
The Pick :
Paraguay 0-2 Spain (or 0-3)
FIXED ODDS BETTING :
Take Spain to win this game
Take Spain to keep a clean sheet
HANDICAP BETTING :
Take Spain to cover the -1 head start.