I'm going to be doing previews of every World Cup game from here on in. First up, the quarterfinals. Here's a preview on Paraguay - Spain, which will be televised at 11:30 a.m. Pacific (2:30 p.m. Eastern) tomorrow on CBC.
Record:(W-L-D) 1-0-3 (one extra win on penalties)
Top scorer: Three players tied with one goal each
Top scorer: David Villa, four goals
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It's been a very curious World Cup so far for Paraguay. They've only won one game in regular time (a 2-0 victory over Slovakia), but they still claimed first place in Group F and knocked out Japan on penalties in the Round of 16. Their defence has been tremendous, only conceding one goal in four matches. Still, they've only scored three goals, and none of their players have more than one. Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz in particular has perhaps been the biggest disappointment; he's one of the few well-known Paraguayan players, but he's been held off the scoresheet so far. The Paraguay run has been fun, even if fan Larissa Riquelme has recieved more recognition than any of the guys on the pitch.
Paraguay may hit a Spanish wall, though. After a slow start to the tournament, Spain recovered to win their group, and they've looked in very solid form over the past couple of matches. They dominated their Round of 16 showdown against a talented, if underachieving Portugal, and the sheer amount of talent on their squad is staggering. David Villa has been perhaps the best striker in the World Cup so far, but they don't even have to lean on him too heavily with the likes of Fernando Torres, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas also available. The Spanish are also rock-solid at the back with Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol cleaning up things in front of Iker Casillas. Spain has been known to come up short in big matches in the past, and Paraguay certainly isn't going to roll over without a fight, but I think the Spanish will take this one.
Prediction: Spain 3, Paraguay 0