Paraguay
v
Japan
Round of 16 – Match 7
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
29th June, 2010, 7:30 PM IST
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (BEL)

When Paraguay and Japan step on the pitch Tuesday evening for registering a place in the quarter finals, history books will be re-written as none of these teams have ever made it to the last eight of the world cup before.

Paraguay is coming into this match after topping their group which had the defending world champions Italy in it. Paraguay, who started off with an exciting draw against the Italians, outplayed the Slovaks in their second fixture 2-0 and then played a stalemate against the Kiwis which made them finish at the top of Group F with five points.

With the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios, Oscar Cardozo upfront, manager Gerardo Martino feels that his frontline has not been able to do justice to their talent so far netting just three goals in the group stages. However the former Argentine midfielder seems satisfied with the team’s defensive play.

La Albirroja would be hoping for the return of their defender Antolin Alcaraz and midfielder Jonathan Santana, both of whom missed their last league match against the Kiwis owing to injuries. Alcaraz, who scored the first goal of their campaign against the Azzurri, injured his ankle against Slovakia. Good news for South Americans is that both these players turned up for the training over the weekend but the final call will be taken only on the eve of the match.

Qualification of Uruguay and Argentina to the last eight, the two teams who qualified below them from South American Qualification campaign, is bound to put Paraguay under tremendous pressure. Expect Paraguay to give it their all to stamp a South American authority on this world cup by becoming the fourth CONMEBOL nation to make it to the last eight.

June 24, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Denmark v Japan FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group E - Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, South Africa - 24/6/10..Keisuke Honda celebrates after scoring Japan's first goal.Honda: “The lad of the rising team”

The Japanese who are coming into this match high on confidence after a thumping 3-1 win over the Danes would feel that they are peaking at the right time in the finals. The Blue Samurai who were considered an outright defensive unit showcased in their last do or die league match that they have what it takes to beat the aggressive European sides at their own game. Led by a lone striker Keisuke Honda who scored their first goal against Denmark from a scorching free-kick and set up another in the second half, the East Asians did prove a point to the rest of the world that they will not be easy pushovers.

Earlier Takeshi Okada’s men comfortably defeated Cameroon 1-0 in a low scoring fixture and put across a brave performance against the Dutch before finally going down by the same margin.

Defense has been the backbone of Japan’s campaign so far and they would look to suffocate the front line of Paraguay who are already suffering from a goal drought.

Running football and set pieces are important weapons in the Asian side’s arsenal and Okada will use them to the fullest against the South Americans. They are the only Asian team left in the competition and they won’t give in without a fight.

World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first meeting at the world cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Paraguay: Played 25, Won 7, Drawn 9, Lost 9
Japan: Played 13, Won 4, Drawn 7, Lost 2

Other Key Facts:
1) Japan has lost all its matches against South American opponents in the world cup.
2) Both teams have never gone beyond round 2 of the world cup.

Player to watch out for: Keisuke Honda (Japan)
Japan is expected to play 4-1-4-1 formation which is going to leave Honda as the lone striker upfront. The CSKA Moscow forward is the leading goal scorer for Japan in this world cup and has impressed everyone with his finishing and assists. Paraguayans will be wary of this dead ball specialist. He can create havoc with his runs and he has played a vital role in almost every Japanese goal in Africa in the finals.

————————————————————————-

Spain
v
Portugal
Round of 16 – Match 8
Green point Stadium, Cape Town
30th June, 2010, 12:00 A.M IST
Referee: Hector Baldassi (ARG)

A mouth watering encounter is in store for us as the European Champions Spain take on Portugal in the last of the round of sixteen matches in Cape Town. Both these teams had arrived in Africa this summer with the favourites tag around their neck but sadly none of them have been able to set the world alight so far. These two neighbours have constantly misfired at the grandest stage in the past and unfortunately the same trend will continue for at least one of them when they meet in the pre-quarters.

Coming into the finals with arguably the perfect squad, La Furia Roja were set to shed their tag of underachievers but have failed to do so with their lackluster display. Switzerland handed them a shocking 0-1 defeat in the first match. Although the Spanish got the better of Honduras and a 10-man Chile but they failed to impress most of the football critics and pundits. But despite not being able to hit top form, they topped their group with Chile coming second on goal difference.

June 25, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Chile v Spain FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group H - Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa - 25/6/10..Spain's Fernando Torres (L) is substituted for Cesc Fabregas.
The quality of Spain’s squad summed up in an instant

The quality which Del Bosque’s men possess can be made out from the fact that they have used Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas only as a substitute in the world cup.

They have played an attacking game, there is no denying that, but with a deadly striker combination of Torres and Villa at their disposal upfront, why they have failed to score more goals remains a mystery. A mystery they must crack before they take on their Iberian neighbours.

Del Bosque has shown blind faith in Torres and will most likely field him in the playing eleven against the Portuguese but the form of the Liverpool striker will certainly be an area of concern for him as he has wasted many chances to score. David Villa on the other hand has ably carried Spanish expectations on his shoulder by netting seventy five percent of the team’s goals. The agony for La Roja doesn’t end here as they might be without the services of their Real Madrid duo of Xabi Alonso in the center of the park and Raul Albiol in the defense.

Portugal’s group performance might look good with a goal difference of plus 7 but with all those goals coming against the weakest team present in the world cup, the 105th ranked DPR Korea, it leaves a big room for improvement for the Selecção das Quinas. They played two boring goal-less draws in the other group encounters against Ivory Coast and the mighty Brazil respectively, moreover they were able to muster just 5 shots on goal in these two matches.

Carlos Queiroz will have to do a lot of hard work with his forwards in the training sessions as they have failed to maintain much of a possession in the final third of the pitch to mount a serious attack throughout the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored in over sixteen months for his national team in the goal fest against DPR Korea but has failed to live up to the tag of one of the most prolific goal scorers in the world when he was pitted against a quality defense.

Deco’s availability for Tuesday’s match will leave Queiroz in a fix as his replacement, Tiago, has played really well and is the leading scorer for the Portuguese in this world cup. But then again this is a situation which a coach would rather love himself to be in.

World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first meeting at the world cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Portugal: Played 20, Won 11, Lost 1, Drawn 8
Spain: Played 50, Won 23, Lost 15, Drawn 12

Other Key Facts:
1) Spain did not collect even a single yellow card in the group stages.
2) Portugal have conceded only once in their last 12 internationals.
3) Jesus Navas has attempted forty crosses thus far in open play in his 118 minutes on the pitch (Eighteen more than any other player).

June 25, 2010 - 06088652 date 25 06 2010 Copyright imago BPI David Villa of Spain Celebrates Scoring The Opening Goal Against Chile PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men World Cup National team international match Tshwane Pretoria Action shot cut out Single Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd Football.Villa has to fly for Spain to surge ahead

Player to watch out for: David Villa (Spain)
He has been the linchpin of La Furia Roja in this tournament so far by scoring three out of the team’s four goals. Opponents have not been able to contain this Barcelona striker and whenever he has scored in this world cup Spain has ended up on the winning side. He has got back into form after a harsh wake up call against the Swiss in their opener and expect him to come with his scoring shoes on in the Green Point stadium as well.

———————————————————————-

67 Responses to “World Cup’10 – Day 19: PREVIEW”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Priyanshu Garg says:

    Spain vs Portugal
    most exciting match of round 16 ….
    would love to see fabregas in starting line up…
    prediction – 2-1

    Japan vs Paraguay
    paraguay need to stop scorching japanese free kicks….
    prediction – penalty shootout (japan)

  2. A win for Japan will be a great result for Asian football… paint the town blueeeeeeee ..Japan!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Dinar says:

    if Sissiano Ronaldo plays for the team & don’t go for the glory then match should be a cracker, else Spain will decimate Portugal 😛 😉
    BTW I hope, Del Bosque doesn’t start Torres he has looked lackluster so far :-( instaed Navas/Fabregas will be a better option IMO.

    as for other match, since all continents will be represented at quarters stage except Asia so far.. have a sneaky feeling that Japan will win against Paraguay. 😀
    watch out for Honda as well as Kawashima, their goalie 😉

  4. @ dinar – I just hope the 2nd match is able to live up to its expectations. The Portuguese were disappointing against the Samba boys but then again they needed to be sure about their qualification for the next round. With hues and cries of Ronaldo assured, the match will definitely set the stadium on fire 😀

  5. Dinar says:

    @Sachin: yeah, 😀
    & that stat of Portugal is pretty impressive, conceded only 1 goal in last 12 matches :-( & under Queiroz Portugal haven’t been a spectacular side to watch so far.. :-/

    but hoping for a good good match at least today :-)

  6. @ dianr- i just want the actor within CR to come out to its fullest tonight.
    Also i am all for the Espanyol tonight quite simply because i will lose a fortune if they end up on the losing side 😛

  7. sorry for misspelling your name dood :)

  8. Harriger says:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.