What Happened

Spain are though to the semifinals. But they didn’t make it easy on themselves.

Paraguay’s stout defending and Spain inability to break them down had made for a boring opening half. But the game exploded in the 57th minute, with one of the most remarkable sequences of the tournament.

Paraguay were awarded a penalty, only to have Iker Casillas save Oscar Cardozo’s attempt. Just two minutes later, Spain were awarded a spot kick, with Xabi Alonso stepping up to convert the chance. But referee Carlos Batres ordered it to be re-taken due to Spanish encroachment in the area. On the second try, Justo Villar stopped Alonso’s penalty to keep the game level — although another penalty easily could have been called on Paraguay for a takedown of Cesc Fabregas.

Spain finally broke through again in the 83rd minute, with David Villa putting a shot off both posts and in for his tournament leading fifth goal.


Notes from Joe

- Andres Iniesta was phenomenal. Seems to just effortlessly glide by defenders. Man of the match by some margin.

- Can’t fault the game plan of Paraguay boss Gerardo Martino. He had to play it cautious because he was going up against a far more talented side, and his boys came really close with the offside goal and missed penalty.

- I know they didn’t face the toughest competition, but Paraguay had only conceded once coming into this match, and it was never going to be easy for Spain to break them down.

- You just knew it had to be a Concacaf referee who would order a penalty to be retaken for encroachment into the penalty area. As many have already tweeted, it’s a pedantic call that could be made almost all of the time — even on Oscar Cardozo’s penalty!

- On Nelson Valdez’s first-half offside “goal”: Cardozo challenging for the ball makes him active — at least in my opinion — so I don’t have a problem with the call.

- Iker Casillas is great and all, and I think he’s one of the best keepers in the world, but his handling has been off throughout the tournament. That spill on Lucas Barrios’ late shot could have been a disaster. Fortunately (for him), Casillas made up for it with a big save on Roque Santa Cruz.

- That was the shakiest I’ve seen Gerard Pique in some time. Don’t know what he was thinking when he gave away that penalty.

- Sergio Ramos is a frustrating player at times. He’ll give the ball away cheaply, but he’ll run his socks off on that right flank and make big plays — like that crucial block late in the match that cost him a boot to the face.

- David Villa has now scored five of Spain’s six goals in the tournament.

- Really liked Paraguay left-back Claudio Morel after the Slovakia game, but it’s been all downhill ever since. He was beaten pretty easily several times in 1 v 1 situations today.

- I really felt for Cardozo when he burst into tears at the end of the game. Ol’ Cold Heart Sharman had no sympathy whatsoever in the War Room.


Notes from Kristian

- Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Iker Casillas were superb again. Spain used their world class to get out of jail with Villa’s goal. A joy to watch.

- Credit Vicente Del Bosque for the switch to 4-1-4-1 before the goal.

- Paraguay’s tactics were brilliant. Their forwards got tight on the Spanish defence, and they defended in two banks of four without ball. Gerardo Martino’s men showed tactical adaptability all throughout the tournament.


Three Stars

1. Andres Iniesta

2. David Villa

3. Paulo Da Silva


Links Wire recap I Box score

Comments (13)

  1. It’s funny Spain and the Netherlands are renouned for playing brilliant football early on in World Cups but choking in the knockout stages. This tournament neither Spain or the Netherlands have been that great to watch, but they are both a game away from the final. If these two met in a final though… I wouldn’t be surprised to see an explosive exciting match :D

  2. I must say, great game – one of the most exciting of the tourney. Sid, how bout that “beating” or “drilling” that Spain was going to give Paraguay eh? eh? Gerardo “Tata” Martino is an outstanding manager with his tactics, that almost paid off. The Paraguayan players showed grit and heart. The Paraguayans should be proud with their performance.

    Such a shame that we won’t get to see Larissa Riquelme running around the streets of Asuncion with her assets hanging out.

  3. Paraguay was unlucky to lose. Their disallowed goal for a phantom offiside was an example of the poor linesman throughout this whole tournament. I thought the ref did a superb job, especially on the penalty retake, although he should have retaken the Paraguay penalty as well for encroachment. Spain v Germany……..can’t wait!

  4. I can MAYBE see why the Paraguay goal was ruled offside, but it definitely wasn’t because of a touch by Cardozo, maybe because he influenced the play I dunno, but I can KIND OF see why it was called back, although I probably wouldn’t have called it offside.

    Nice to see Fernando Torres, regaining his touch, a little bit. He made a few runs and gave me hope that his touch and sharpness is coming back, but he’s still not the World Class striker that we’ve grown to love at Anfield, hopefully he’ll get there and regain that form in training leading up to the Germany match, otherwise Del Bosque may have to start with the 4-1-4-1 formation he used in today’s match.

  5. With Torres’ substitution, I need to ask: Has *any* EPL player wrapped himself in glory? none have impressed. I’m not going to blame the long season, I’m going to blame the fact that the entire league promotes passion and power over technique. Players who thrive in that environment are getting caught short in a more clever brand of football.


  6. We may need a new nickname for Carlos “Blind as a” Batres after this one, but I’m struggling to think of one that is as catchy – Carlos “Pedantic as a” Batres or “Inconsistent as a” Batres doesn’t quite have the same the same ring to it. It was like he was making up the rules as he went along. And this is the best the Concacaf region has to offer, apparently……

  7. Bishopville;

    I agree, but disagree. There have been some EPL players who have done well, but I think glory is the wrong word for what they’ve done. Players like Mascherano, and Kuyt have worked hard and done what they had to. Kuyt has a goal (and a pair of assists, if you believe in those things) while Mascherano was doing a good job as a Defensive Midfielder until the Germans came. But it seemed more like he needed another body playing defensive alongside him due to the strength of the German attack, as opposed to him playing badly.

    I would perhaps add Tevez and Robinho, who played well until they faced a real challenge, and Landon Donovan (does he count as EPL?) who may not have had the toughest opponents, but also had worse teammates.

    Meanwhile Elano and Xabi Alonso are only a year removed from the EPL, and both have had strong tournaments – Elano’s of course cut short due to injury (something that might be a factor leading to Brazil’s elimination?)

    So to summarise…you’re right, no EPL player has wrapped himself in glory. And there’s only 8 left (Spain’s Torres, Fabregas and Reina, plus Holland’s Heitinga, de Jong, Kuyt, van Persie…and Babel…)

  8. Should be interesting to see if Del Bosque starts El Nino for the next match. The 4-1-4-1 may be the better formation to play against Germany. A packed midfield might slow down the quick German counterattacks.

  9. Torres has devalued himself this World Cup as he is a shell of the man who Liverpool have looked for when it comes to goals (and that’s saying a lot when you consider they have Gerrard and Kyut)
    It was a mockery that the referee called the re-take of the penalty shot due to encroachment. It was as if he was having second thoughts of giving the penalty, while it was a 50/50 that Villa dived. (Has anyone noticed that when Villa has more then one man on him he just falls to the floor on minimal contact?) I know they were great but if “Andres Iniesta, David Villa… joy to watch” why did they only get the one goal? Paraguay was decent defneding, they had huge numbers at the back, but against the German side that will play a man to man defense and will have the strongest attack and counter attack Spain has faced thus far, it will be a big challenge for the reigning European champions to go thru, considering they haven’t been ripping the opposite goal to shreds.
    Considering his exit every time he starts will Fabregas still start on the bench ( he’s been amazing in that role, humble and working hard to make thigns happen) or will Torres finally be relegated?
    Paraguay can go home happy they did this much.
    Great game and great semis set up.

  10. Torres will start on Wednsday, no question about it…….. any bets?

  11. I, for one, have no problem with the penalty retake. It’s not like it was a close call.

    Not that the officiating was great.

    If you made me pick a World Cup manager to manage my club team next year, I think I’d pick Paraguay’s.

  12. @3LR . The so-called ‘Phantom Offside’ was actually one of the better calls made by the officials. Cardozo, who was clearly in an offside position, went for the ball drawing a defender and was therefore active and the goal rightly called back as offside.

  13. 2 things we gotta see

    1) more riquelme – it would be rude not to

    2) maradonna’s rant at the end of the germany game – has anyone actually seen it?

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