Sportsball (World Cup 2010), Matchday Nineteen (Last 16)

Paraguay 0-0 Japan (Paraguay win on penalties)

It figured that the worst of the last 16 would be finished on penalties. I expected more of both teams, especially Japan. But, perhaps both teams had burnt out following the group stages.

Paraguay had the better of the first, since the Blue Samurai were sitting back so much, content to hit the South Americans on the counter attack. Neither side were good in attack, and the game floundered into a scrappy, tense affair. A few decent bits, Paraguay had a bit of flair, Japan had a few decent set pieces, but neither seemed to really want the win in 90.

Que the extra 30, and both teams came out of their respective shells a little. Both had chances to win it, but neither had the poise, or discipline to take them. So penalties it was.

Paraguay have obviously done a little penalty practice. Every one was very cooly taken, four of the five going into unreachable corners. Paraguay’s keeper was heavy on the mind games – dancing on the line, arms up and down, advancing on the ball – and it seemed to work as Komanao smashed his onto the crossbar. My own personal rule one for penalties: always keep it low.

That’s what Paraguay did, and now they have a quarter-final to look forward too. Japan should be proud of the effort they’ve made at this World Cup but they’ll rue that lack of purpose and desire in the 120 minutes they failed to score.

Spain 1-0 Portugal

It was tough, it was tight, and the Referee didn’t know what was going on must of the time. However, Spain deserved it. Far better on the attack and far more chances corrected. Eduardo was kept busy all night and if he hadn’t been on form the score would have reflected the stats far more accurately.

Portugal seemed content to use the counter attack as their main offensive option but Ronaldo’s total lack of form tonight meant that they never looked as threatening as their Iberian counterparts. Villa was on top and even Torres showed glimpses of class. The goal was scrappy when it came, but Villa showed great determination to follow-up the first saved shot.

After that, Portugal had no ideas. Spain remained in the ascendency and Portugal’s lone effort was a woeful long distant effort from their Captain. Rui Costa’s sending off was baffling, but that late in the game, did it really matter? Referee was poor, clearly influenced by prior opinions of Ronaldo and others. Spanish defence was top class, the disaster against Switzerland a distant memory.

So, Spain and Paraguay. It has to be Spain. Better in every department and Paraguay have a problem scoring goals.

I notice that with the exception of Ghana/Uruguay, all the quarter finals are Europe/South America. Big test of the old world nations there. There is a chance of an all CONMEBOL Semi-Finals. Unlikely though.


6 right (Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain and Netherlands), 2 wrong (USA, Japan). 75% accuracy. I’m improving. Let’s aim even higher!

Germany/Argentina – Germany
Brazil/Netherlands – Brazil
Uruguay/Ghana – Uruguay
Spain/Paraguay – Spain

Ugh, two full days without football. How will I ever cope?

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