Spain can prove strong for over-achieving ParaguayJuly 1st, 2010 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, July 1 (DPA) Spain will continue their quest for a first World Cup title Saturday with what looks like a relatively straightforward quarter-final clash against Paraguay at Ellis Park.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque could be forgiven for having one eye on a potential semi-final date with Germany or Argentina in Durban, but the affable 59-year-old says the European champions won’t underestimate the South Americans.
“The match against Paraguay will be as difficult as every other match we have played in so far. We expect a defensively set-up team that will be looking to hit us on the break,” said Del Bosque.
Paraguay qualified top of a qualifying group that included world champions Italy and booked their first-ever appearance in a World Cup quarter-final thanks to a penalty shootout victory over Japan in Pretoria.
“We’re trying to stay calm, knowing that we still have things ahead of us,” said Argentina-born striker Lucas Barrios.
“This is a unique experience, the World Cup. We’re among the eight best teams in the world.”
Teammate Nelson Haedo Valdez, meanwhile, admitted that Spain would go into the tie as overwhelming favourites but said Paraguay wouldn’t simply roll over and die.
“We are going to give everything for Paraguay,” he said. “If nothing else, we’ll cause them a headache and make them tired for the semi-finals.”
Spain’s best performance at a World Cup came way back in 1950 when they finished fourth, and victory over Paraguay in Johannesburg would guarantee that this La Roja side at least equal that achievement.
Del Bosque will be looking to the tournament’s joint top scorer David Villa, who secured the breakthrough against an ultra-defensive Portugal side in the last round, to repeat the feat against Gerardo Martino’s equally unadventurous side.
The coach is also expected to keep faith with Fernando Torres even though the Liverpool striker has failed to score or last a full 90 minutes in South Africa so far and looked clearly off the pace once again in the 1-0 defeat of the Portuguese in the Round of 16.
Torres is clearly still recovering from the knee surgery he underwent prior to the tournament and has received support from strike partner Villa.
“The only blame you can place on him is the fact that he hasn’t scored,” said the Barcelona striker.
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