Friday, July 2, 2010

El Guaje Steps Up To Lead Spain's Attack

The new Barcelona triumvirate took charge during the Spain-Portugal match. Xavi-Iniesta-Villa put to rest Portugal's interest in the World Cup earlier this week. With Fernando Torres misfiring, Villa is carrying the bulk of the Spanish attack on his shoulders and has not shirked that responsibility.

Against Portugal, Spain put on their most impressive performance. Their dominance was underlined by an unthinkable 61% possession. Portugal for all their talent, hardly did themselves any justice but credit should be give to Spain for their excellence in keeping Ronaldo starved of the ball. That clearly frustrated the Portuguese playboy, his spit and curt response to a journalist reflected that dissatisfaction.

Portugal's reliance on attacking midfielders supporting the attack were unrealised as Spain just boxed out their midfield. I saw the game as Del Bosque winning a tactical battle against Queiroz. The swagger is finally back for Spain. Now if only the real El Nino will show up....but he will start against Paraguay this Saturday.

With Paraguay seemingly a lesser team than Portugal, the whole of Spain is getting excited at the prospect of a first semifinal berth in over 60 years. Xabi Alonso rightfully played down the excitement, maintaining a sensible "one-match-at-a-time" outlook,
"We are still a long way from the semis, we definitely have to ignore the euphoria in the country and the fact that people already see us playing in the semis. The next match is Paraguay and this is the only thing we have to focus on."
Gerrardo Martino says that to have any chance,
"Paraguay have to stop Spain from dominating possession and show spirit and fight to have any chance"
Martino have cause to worry as against Portugal, Xavi and Iniesta definitely hurt Portugal with their intricate passing patterns. Everyone in the Spanish side is so comfortable on the ball, even the powerful Gerard Pique. Veteran Los Guaranies leftback Denis Caniza will also find it difficult to contain the power of Sergio Ramos who has played extremely well. The key for Paraguay is Nelson Valdez. He has the ability to provoke and create with his all-action style.

The fragility and mental strength of the Spanish team will be put to the test by the physical strength and hardworking ethic of La Albirroja. Nevertheless, Vicente Del Bosque has built a very talented squad around Spain and the European champions will want to stamp their class in this match. They will have to be at their best to overcome a Paraguay side that finished third in the competitive CONMEBOL qualifiers.

Justo Villar will have to perform even more heroics than Portugal's Eduardo to keep La Furia Roja at arm's length. This sums up Paraguay's approach towards this historic quarterfinal match,
"It's going to be a good match where you will see two types of football. One side trying to attack skillfully while we try to stop them and then try to take advantage of our chances.''

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