PRETORIA - Paraguay, having reached a
World Cup last-eight milestone, will need a monumental upset
against Spain if they are to go further into the unknown.
They beat Japan 5-3 on penalties after a goalless extra time
draw at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday, becoming the fourth South
American team to reach the quarter-finals.
However, unlike the high-scoring Argentina and Brazil, coach
Gerardo Martino's team netted a mere three goals to win their
group, with none by a forward.
"I wouldn't like to be unfair to the forwards because, to
score goals, the ball should reach them more cleanly and in
advantageous positions," the Argentine said.
"We had some chances but they were tight. I think our future
rivals will let us play differently, not having to take the game
to them and that's more convenient," he told the post-match news
"In three of the four World Cup matches we had to take the
game to our opponents and that's difficult for a team like ours.
(Spain) will give us more space."
Spain, who meet Paraguay at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on
Saturday, will certainly play more openly than Japan, who sat
back and tried hitting the South Americans on the break.
Vicente del Bosque's side showed their credentials as one of
the favourites by getting past a tough Portugal side on Tuesday
and Paraguay might need to hold out for another impeccable set
of penalties for an upset.
Even if they lose, Martino and his team will still be able
to leave South Africa proud to have given Paraguay their best
The Argentine had said long before the finals that Paraguay
had the players to break their traditional mould of a side with
a solid back line and potency in the air.
They are more versatile up front even after the loss of
shooting victim Salvador Cabanas, a key player in the
qualifiers, but they lack the quality of a David Villa, Xavi or
"I think we can leave this World Cup with our heads very
high," said striker Nelson Valdez.
"People say that five qualify out of 10 (South American
Football Confederation teams) and it's easy but as you can see
nothing's easy in South America and now we're in the best eight
and that has to be celebrated," he told reporters.
"I don't think we're 100 percent aware yet of what we have
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