This is arguably the most lopsided matchup in the quarterfinals. Spain comes in as European Champion and has looked strong after the initial shocker against Switzerland. They adjusted in their second match against a defensive oriented side in Portugal.
They had major problems against the Swiss who were content with disrupting the Spanish attack, but came back to beat Portugal who played a similar style in the Round-of-16. Expect more of the same from Paraguay, who have relied on their defense and counter attack throughout the tournament.
Spain’s David Villa is joint top scorer of the tournament with four goals. The Spanish should be able to pick the Paraguayan defense apart with their ridiculously strong passing game. Most teams feared Fernando Torres as Spain’s most dangerous striker, but the 26-year-old has struggled.
Torres has 13 shot attempts, but only managed to fire on target two times. He has yet to score a goal and hasn’t gotten an assist either. The striker missed the final part of Liverpools Premier League season and underwent knee surgery in April. He ended up with 22 goals in 32 games for Liverpool, but seems to be lacking match practice.
Paraguay has yet to lose a game, but they haven’t been able to score consistently. They have three goals in four matches, two coming against in a group stage victory over Slovakia. Roque Santa Cruz – arguably the side’s most dangerous striker – has thee shots on goal, but has failed to find the back of the net.
In fact, none of the Paraguayan attackers have scored a goal yet. The three scores came courtesy of defender Antolin Alcaraz, and midfielders Enrique Vera and Cristian Riveros. The USA had the same problem, and it spelled trouble against Ghana.
Paraguay will keep relying on their defensive strategy and hope for a breakout game for at least one of their strikers on their counter attacks. With the Spanish squad’s ability to defend and to control the ball with their pinpoint passing, this will most likely not happen.
Spain showed against Portugal that it can handle this style of play. The players on the Red Fury’s side are patient enough to wait for their chance and the passes from the speedy wingers to Torres and Villa will eventually lead to a score.
Spain has yet to reach the semifinals at a World Cup, but they should do it this year. They held a 12-game winning streak before losing to Switzerland and are looking to start a new run. Their win-streak included a 2-1 victory over Argentina in a friendly in November.
The Red Fury comes in as the heavy favorite and I don’t expect them to disappoint. They will relentlessly attack the Paraguayan defense and eventually come through with a goal. I think they will beat the South Americans in regulation and finally advance to the semis.
If you think Spain can win in 90 minutes, go to Pinnacle (-187) or 5Dimes (-197) for the best lines. If you think the Paraguayan defense can hold up for at least 90 minutes, but Spain will still advance, pick a draw at +330 at Bodog, and/or Spain to advance at -488 at 5Dimes.