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Sport

Paraguay and Spain face off in quarter-final match

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-04

Heavily favoured Spain is braced to take on rival Paraguay in the World Cup 2010 quarter-finals Saturday.

AP - Spain believes it's ready to make history at the World Cup by winning a quarterfinal match for the first time.

Surprisingly, Spain has never advanced to a semifinal match at a World Cup in four opportunities between 1934 and 2002.

 
Standing in its way at Johannesburg's Ellis Park on Saturday is a resolute Paraguay team that is the most successful ever sent to a World Cup from the South American nation.
 
``We're in a situation where we can make history and we're part of a team that has no guarantees of getting back here,'' midfielder Cesc Fabregas said on Friday, ``so we have to take advantage.''
 
Spain has once reached the last four at a World Cup, at the quirky 1950 tournament when just 13 teams showed up in Brazil and the four group winners advanced to a round-robin pool to decide the honors.
 
When the World Cup format has used a knockout bracket, Spain has always been stopped at the quarterfinals stage.
 
Spain lost to South Korea on penalties after a goalless draw in a 2002 matchup remembered for disputed referee calls, and Roberto Baggio lifted Italy to a 2-1 victory in 1994. In 1986, Belgium prevailed in a shootout after a 1-1 draw, and 1934 host Italy ousted the Spanish 1-0 in a replay.
 
Fabregas said Spain didn't need Brazil's 2-1 loss to Netherlands as a warning of what can happen in South Africa.
 
``Spain has already lived through enough (lessons) in its history at the World Cup and the Euro,'' Fabregas said. ``Anything can happen, as we saw with Brazil.''
 
Del Bosque would not be drawn in to suggesting the European champion has a golden chance to break the streak, and earn a final four tie against Argentina or Germany.
 
``We certainly have no guarantee it's going to be an easy match,'' Del Bosque said Friday. ``We can't start thinking that we're playing the semifinals. Our maximum obsession has to be about beating Paraguay. By no means do we expect an easy game.''
 
Spain knows South American opposition having beaten Chile 2-1 to top Group H after losing its opener 1-0 against a Switzerland side that frustrated by defending in depth just like the Paraguayans shape to do Saturday.
 
Center back Gerard Pique said a loss would be disappointing but not disastrous against the latest defensive-minded rival to cross Spain's path.
 
``They are a very strong and aggressive team that pressures you hard,'' Pique said. ``They'll probably play a more defensive game due to the characteristics of their players.''
 
Paraguay arrives at this stage on the back of three straight shutouts by its defense, and a perfect five-for-five record in the penalty shootout against Japan when the teams' second-round game was goalless after extra time.
 
Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino expects his team to continue making its own history.
 
``We have not played defensive matches, that's not our only resource,'' Martino said Friday. ``We have had the same amount of possession as our opponents and yet we have had few attackers get through on goal against us.''
 
Martino is still looking for a first goal from his forwards in South Africa, which has good attacking potential in forwards Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Oscar Cardozo.
 
However, Del Bosque is expected to keep the same starting lineup with Liverpool's Fernando Torres partnering new Barcelona signing David Villa, whose four goals has him joint top of the tournament.
 
Backup defender Raul Albiol is almost certain to be unavailable to an ankle injury, while midfielder Javi Martinez trained normally on Friday after hurting his right ankle a day earlier.

 

Date created : 2010-07-03

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