Spain squeeze past Paraguay to secure first semi-final
Spain reached their first World Cup semi-final as David Villa’s late winner gave them a nervy 1-0 victory against Paraguay.
The pre-tournament favourites are now 15/8 to win the World Cup, but they must improve when they face Germany in Wednesday’s semi-final.
This quarter-final was a somewhat disappointing affair, with Spain uncharacteristically disjointed in possession and Paraguay content to sit back and soak up their opponents’ largely misfiring attacks.
In an almost incident-free first half, Spain failed to trouble their opponents, while Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez had a goal dubiously disallowed.
The match burst into life after an hour, however, as both sides missed a penalty in a dramatic three-minute spell.
Paraguay were the first to blow their chance, as Iker Casillas saved Oscar Cardozo’s weak spot-kick. Cardozo had his captain Justo Villar to thank for saving his blushes, though, as the Paraguayan goalkeeper parried Xabi Alonso’s effort from 12 yards.
Spain’s semi-final with Germany promises to be an enthralling clash of styles, with the Euro 2008 champions’ ‘tiki taka’ philosophy of patient, short passing confronting the pulsating counter-attacking of Joachim Low’s side.
At 13/8, Spain are strong candidates to win this mouthwatering final four fixture, though even they will have been alarmed by Germany’s 4-0 thrashing of World Cup contenders Argentina.
Germany are 13/8 to beat Spain in 90 minutes, which seems a very tempting price in light of their masterclass against Argentina and Spain’s largely unconvincing form.
Villa is now a firm 4/11 favourite to win the Golden Shoe, and his devastating performances are ample compensation for the profligacy of his struggling strike partner, Fernando Torres.
And even with their midfield misfiring, Spain will be confident that, with Villa in their ranks, they can win their first World Cup.
Can Spain make history? They are 15/8 to win their first World Cup. See the full Tournament Winner market.