Day 19 features matchups between Paraguay and Japan as well as Spain and Portugal. The first match could be closer than expected and the second one will see two of the best European teams face off.
The day starts with a game between Paraguay and Japan. Paraguay might be the weakest group winner in the tournament. They have had trouble scoring, and while their defense held up against Slovakia and New Zealand, they conceded a goal against Italy.
The Paraguayans did end up on top of their group because the other teams were even worse than they were. They benefited from Italy’s weak play. It became obvious that they are not as good as their top position makes you believe, when they couldn’t score against lowly New Zealand.
Paraguay still hasn’t gotten a goal from their top-striker Roque Santa Cruz, and he hasn’t looked like he will score at this tournament. They will keep playing their defensive style and hope for goals on counter attacks.
Japan has surprised at this tournament and played a great game against Denmark. They are a very defensive-minded squad, but showed they can score when they beat the Danes 3-1. They kept the match against the Netherlands close and slowed down Holland’s high flying attack.
I could see them keep the Paraguayans in check and continue their run. They look like one of the best conditioned teams in the cup and that will become more and more important as the tournament goes into the knockout stage.
While Japan showed that they can be successful on offense, neither team will come out firing. Both sides will try to wait for a mistake by their opponents and this could be a slow match. I think this one will go into extra time and possibly penalties.
If you think the match will be tied after 90 minutes, go to 5Dimes for a + 221 line. If you think Paraguay will overcome its offensive woes and win in regulation, go to Bodog for a +120 moneyline.
The second matchup of the day should be the exact opposite of the first game. While it could be a close one with the possibility of extra time as well, we should see tons of offense in this one. Spain and Portugal are two of the best sides in Europe.
They go into their matches with an offensive mind-set and we shout see lots of great plays Tuesday. Portugal has one of the best players in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to show his brilliance, but he can score at any point.
He tends to be a little selfish at times, and needs to get his teammates involved more, but when he makes a run, a goal is always a possibility. The Spanish defense will have to account for him at all times which could open up space for the other Portuguese players.
Portugal drew with the Ivory Coast and the unleashed its offense against North Korea. They scored seven goals, and Ronaldo got his first of the tournament on a lucky bounce. Tiago scored twice, and Simao, Liedson, and Raul Meireles added their names to the list of scorers as well.
Spain lost a shocker to Switzerland in the opener, but recovered after that. They beat Chile 2-1 and took care of Honduras 2-0. They have one of the most dangerous strikers in Fernando Torres. Xabi Alonso will most likely be a game-time decision after he hurt his ankle in Spain’s win over Chile.
The Spanish didn’t look as dominant as they would have liked to against 10 Chileans and will have to step up their game against Portugal. They are the favorites going into the match, but I could see extra time here. Bodog offers the most money for a tie after 90 minutes with a +220 line.