Head-to-Head: Paraguay v Spain

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Posted Saturday, July 03, 2010 by theguardian.com

Gerardo Martino's side will be considered by many to have overachieved at this tournament, and they may need to curb their attacking instincts against the joint-favourites

Head-to-Head: Paraguay v Spain
Spain's David Villa has been one of the hottest strikers on show at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.


Paraguay v Italy 1-1, v Slovakia 2-0, v New Zealand 0-0, v Japan 0-0 (5-3 pens)

Spain v Switzerland 0-1, v Honduras 2-0, v Chile 2-1, v Portugal 1-0

Paraguay began their campaign with a hard fought 1-1 draw with Italy before cruising to a comfortable 2-0 win over Slovakia. A goalless draw with New Zealand sealed qualification. La Albirroja have found goals hard to come by in South Africa and needed a penalty shoot-out to see off Japan and book their place the last eight. Spain got their tournament under way with a shock defeat to Switzerland. Thankfully for coach Vicente del Bosque, they faced Honduras next and beat Reinaldo Rueda's men with ease before a much less comfortable 2-1 win over Chile sealed their second-round berth.

Previous meetings

Played 3

Paraguay 0

Spain 1

Draws 2 Paraguay goals 1

Spain goals 3


Gerardo Martino v Vicente del Bosque

Gerardo Martino prefers to attack rather than sitting back. He has signalled his intent by installing Carlos Bonet at right full-back over Dário Verón and playing with three out-and-out strikers so far. But the loss of Salvador Cabañas, right, left him with little option but to favour a counterattacking style. Vicente del Bosque made the smoothest of transitions when replacing Luis Aragonés as coach two years ago. An advocate of the passing game, Del Bosque's sides will always look to pass their way to victory.

Key clash

David Villa v Paulo da Silva

Paulo da Silva will have his hands full trying to contain one of the most potent strikers in the game. Playing with the fluidity of those around him, Barcelona's latest addition roams across the front line but will look to do most of his damage cutting in from the left. The Paraguayan often looks vulnerable in one-on-one situations and if Villa can get a head of steam, he is likely to cause the Sunderland defender a world of problems. His central defensive partner Antolín Alcaraz will likely be called upon to give him a hand, leaving space for the Spanish midfield to exploit.

ExpectationsSouth Africa 2010 made it four World Cup qualifications in a row for Paraguay, and they came into the tournament looking for nothing more than that elusive spot in the final eight. Having exited at the round of 16 in two of their past three World Cups, you could have forgiven the players had they already started packing their bags. Victory over Japan yesterday meant "mission accomplished". Spain came into South Africa as European champions and the favourites for the tournament. Success in Euro 2008 made true believers out of a nation, and the Spanish people expect success.

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