Spain vs. Paraguay Ellis at Park Stadium Johannesburg, South Africa 2:30 PM EST Saturday July 3, 2010 on ESPN
by Jason Green, World Cup Soccer Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Spain 1.50 / Paraguay 7.00 / Draw 4.00
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Spain -250 / Paraguay +725 / Draw +305
In the night quarterfinals match on Saturday, Spain is the big favorite against Paraguay. After getting shocked in their opening World Cup match losing to Switzerland Spain has won 3 in a row and is on the cusp of equaling their best World Cup showing, which was making the semifinals way back in 1950.
Spain has looked impressive in their last few matches, but one of their stars, Fernando Torres, has not lived up to his superstar status and he may be replaced against Paraguay.
Paraguay is in the quarterfinals, but they have not looked that great, as so far in South Africa they have only won one match outright. They will have to play great defense in order to pull of the upset against Spain, as they do not have a great offense. In their 4 matches in South Africa they have only scored 3 goals and they have failed to score in their last 2 matches.
In each team’s round of 16 matches Spain beat Portugal 1-0 and Paraguay and Japan played to a 0-0 draw, but Paraguay won on penalty kicks 5-3.
In their win over Japan Paraguay continued to play solid defense, but they did not get many legit chances to score. When they face Spain their only chances to score may come on the counter-attack and they will have to take advantage of the chances they get, as they will likely get several since Spain is an attacking team that will push forward on offense.
Spain won the time of possession battle in their match against Portugal (61% to 39%) and had 10 shots on target, but only came away with one goal. Paraguay will likely play a defensive formation like Portugal did and Spain must take advantage of the scoring opportunities unlike they did in the quarterfinals.
Paraguay is looking to make their very first appearance in the World Cup semifinals.
Spain Recent Form:
6/29/2010 Spain 1 Portugal 0 (World Cup)
6/25/2010 Spain 2 Chile 1 (World Cup)
6/21/2010 Spain 2 Honduras 0 (World Cup)
6/16/2010 Spain 0 Switzerland 1 (World Cup)
Paraguay Recent Form:
6/29/2010 Paraguay 0 Japan 0 – Paraguay wins on Penalty 5-3 (World Cup)
6/24/2010 Paraguay 0 New Zealand 0 (World Cup)
6/20/2010 Paraguay 2 Slovakia 0 (World Cup)
6/14/2010 Paraguay 1 Italy 1 (World Cup)
Both teams are pretty healthy and no players are suspended, but for Paraguay MF’s Cristin Riveros and Enrigue Vera along with forward Roque Santa Cruz are playing with a yellow card and for Spain MF Xabi Alonso is playing on a yellow.
Spain striker David Villa is in the lead for the Golden Boot with 4 goals and he has been fantastic, especially with Torres struggling. He will come out and continue to play well and score in this match.
The Paraguay striker duo of Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz have to pressure the Spain defense in this match, but do not look for them to score, as Spain will control the ball in the midfield.
Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol have been solid for Spain on defense and they will need to be again. Even though G Iker Casillas has struggled to deal with the moving Jubalani ball he will keep a clean sheet in this match.
The center half duo of Antonio Alcaraz and Paulo Da Silva are the strength of the Paraguay defense, but they will not be able to keep the powerful Spanish from finding some cracks in their defense and scoring.
Jason’s Pick to Win the Game: Spain should dominate the time of possession in this match and Paraguay will pack the defense and look to score off the counter attack like they did in their first match against Italy. Spain simply is too talented at every position and even though this game will likely not be an exciting one Spain will keep their composure and score while not allowing Paraguay to do so. Spain will win this match by a score of 1-0 or 2-0 and advance to the semifinals.