Paraguay vs Spain – Spain hot favourites to progress
Despite having failed to progress beyond the World Cup quarter-finals since 1950, Spain are the enormous favourites to win this one, with odds of 4/9 to come out on top.
It’s hardly surprising, considering that the European champs have seemingly recovered from their first match scare against the Swiss to put together a string of wins, whilst Paraguay stumbled through having churned their way to a boring victory on penalties against Japan.
Despite a rather topsy-turvy record against South America’s big two – Argentina and Brazil – Spain tend to fare very well against the second tier South American teams, having never lost to the likes of Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Venzuela, or Ecuador.
Their unbeaten record against Paraguay reflects this trend, with the sides having met on three occasions, with Spain winning one (3-1 at the 2002 World Cup) and the other two ending in draws.
A glimmer of hope for Paraguay may lie in the fact that Spain failed to win their quarter-finals in 1986, 1994, and 2002. With two of those matches (vs Belgium, 1986; South Korea, 2002) going to penalties.
But Spain are a very different animal these days, having shaken off the notorious “big game bottlers” tag in recent years.
All eyes, of course, will be on David Villa to open the scoring, as he has in the last three matches – against Honduras, Chile, and Portugal – hence, he is the big favourite to get the ball rolling, with odds of 11/4.
Fernando Torres is the second favourite (at 4/1), presumably on the assumption that a striker of such genuine quality couldn’t possibly go through an entire tournament without getting on the scoresheet.
His odds for opening his World Cup account are generously short at 11/10.
Back in 2002 when the teams met, Spain won 3-1, but it was Paraguay who opened the scoring. Man City fans can back their man, Roque Santa Cruz, to score first at 11/1.
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