World Cup Odds and Picks: Paraguay Vs. Spain Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/2/2010
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If you go strictly by world rankings, the final quarterfinal match at the World Cup between Paraguay and Spain on Saturday is the biggest mismatch of the four, with Paraguay ranked No. 31 (only Ghana, at 32, is lower) and Spain at No. 2 in the world. And the odds – see below -- bear out that this should be the most guaranteed result.
But, then again, you overlook a South American country at your peril in this tournament, as a record four of them reached the quarterfinals (only Chile, among the continent’s five entrants, did not). The Paraguayans got to their first-ever quarterfinal thanks to a shootout win over Japan in the Round of 16 – that’s the only shootout we’ve had at this tournament entering the quarterfinals and was just the third scoreless tie in the history of the Round of 16.
However, there are warning signs for a struggling Paraguay attack, which has failed to find the net since a 2-0 win over Slovakia in the second match of group play. Paraguay’s 73.7 percent cumulative passing accuracy is the lowest among all remaining teams in the World Cup. Since 1986, no team ever has reached the semifinals with a passing accuracy that low. None of the team’s forwards have scored yet. But on the bright side, the Paraguayans have conceded only one goal, against Italy in the first round.
Paraguay's players are dedicating their success here to Salvador Cabanas, the team's striker, who is back home recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was attacked Jan. 25 in Mexico. Cabanas was the team’s leading scorer during qualifying.
Spain, meanwhile, was a pre-tournament favorite along with Brazil. And other than an opening match hiccup against the Swiss, the Spaniards have looked good. They beat Portugal 1-0 in the Round of 16 on David Villa’s fourth goal of the World Cup, which is tied for the lead. It was Portugal’s first loss in 19 international matches. Spain is still waiting for some kind of contribution from star Fernando Torres, who is not yet in full form. Torres was substituted against Paraguay and Fernando Llorente played well in his place. However, Coach Vicente del Bosque has said he will ignore calls for Llorente to start ahead of Torres on Saturday.
Spain is one of just eight European sides in the quarterfinals, which is the lowest number ever. And if you are planning a futures bet, remember that no team that has lost its first World Cup match – as Spain did vs. Switzerland -- has ever won the tournament.
Paraguay and Spain have met three times in their history, with Spain winning one and the other two ending in draws.
Paraguay vs. Spain World Cup Odds:
Paraguay is a +1 (Even) underdog on the goal line, while Spain is -1 (-130). This is the only quarterfinal match where the goal line isn’t a ‘pick’em’. While wagering with the draw – which only includes 90 minutes plus injury time – Portugal is +700 and Spain -250; the draw is +330. The total is 2.5 goals, with the ‘under’ a -175 favorite.
Paraguay vs. Spain Picks and Predictions:
Paraguay will win if: It will need its best defensive effort of this World Cup as Spain might be the premier passing team in the world, especially in the center of the field. “You will see two types of football," Paraguay keeper Justo Villar said. "One side trying to attack skillfully while we try to stop them and then try to take advantage of our chances." Certainly stopping Villa, especially with Torres still struggling, will be the primary concern. Paraguay has won just two of its past 13 World Cup meetings with European teams.
Spain will win if: It’s in its third quarterfinal in the past five World Cups but has been a perennial underachiever at major tournaments. But that monkey seemed to be lifted somewhat with the Euro 2008 title. Spain is in its third quarterfinal in the past five World Cups but has never advanced beyond this stage in the current format, which is stunning (hence that reputation). In all international matches, Spain has won its past five against South American teams and that will continue here with a 2-0 victory.
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