Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup
closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
Paraguay and Spain earned tickets to the quarterfinals
The Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa was the site for the second round game between Japan vs. Uruguay. It was a game where both teams were playing with lot of cautions. It was a very physical game and this might be one of the worst game in the World Cup. To find a winner, the fans had to wait for the penalty shoot out which Paraguay won 5-3 to earn a spot in the quarterfinal. Both teams could have won the game in the 90 minutes, however they were not able to capitalize on their opportunities. It was mostly a game of strategy. In the 23rd minute, Daisuke of Matsui blasted a shot on the crossbar of the goals defended by Justo Villar. Minutes later, it was Roque Santa Cruz who shot wide and missed a golden opportunity to give Paraguay the lead. Japan tried to play at time some attacking football while Paraguay remained faithful to their defensive-type minded game.
If one is analyzing this game, Japan somewhat created more opportunities ; however, playing a cautious game may have well prevented the Japanese from earning a spot in the quarter finals. Otherwise, they could have won the game. The same can be said for Paraguay as well because they also played better in previous games. Both teams did not want to risk anything so they were ok to get to the penalty kicks. After 90 minutes and 30 minutes of extra time, both teams had to settle the battle in a penalty shoot outs. Barreto, Barrios, Riveros, Valdez and Cardozo scored their penalty kicks(PKs0 while Endo, Hasebe, Honda also scored their PKs for Japan. Unfortunately Komano missed his PKs and therefore doomed the hope of Japan. Both teams deserved some praises for what they have done in the first round. However, in their games today, we were expecting more from them or at least from Japan. Paraguay have booked their tickets to the quarterfinals for the first time. They will face the winner of Spain vs Portugal on July 3rd.
The Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa was the site for the fight between Spain and Portugal. Spain started the world cup on the wrong feet but now, Spain is playing excellent football. The Spaniards played the game with authority. They should have won the game more than 1-0. The goal was somewhat offside; however Spain deserved the win. They are now on top of their games. For Portugal, it was very disappointed because they were not aggressive at all and Cristiano Ronaldo did not step up for Portugal. In 19 games, Portugal havenít lost any. However, Today David Villa and company eliminated Portugal from the World Cup.
Spain was clearly the better team on the pitch. Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Xabi Alonso were completely in control of the game. Despite controlling the game, the first half ended 0-0. In the second half, Spain kept playing their beautiful football and keeping possession of the ball. Portugal was basically looking for the counterattack;. However, the men under the direction of Del Bosque knew what was at stake and this is to get rid of Portugal. It was in the 63rd minute, after a beautiful play, David Villa gave Spain a 1-0 lead. The goal might have been offside, but Spain really deserved to win the game because they were in complete control of the situation. The Spaniards played with personality and authority and they are a true contender in this World Cup. The Spaniard have a favorable path all until the semi-finals. They are playing the way that we have seen Spain playing recently. To some extent, one can claim Spain as the top 3 teams in this tournament. We must not get carried away because Spain tend to be an underachiever. Letís hope Spain will continue to show up because they are indeed a very good team and Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo were no competition because the Spaniards were decisive and focus.
After winning this second round, Spain will face with Paraguay in the quarterfinals. Will Spain continue into their path to June 11th or will Paraguay spoil the party for the Spaniards? We shall know on July 3rd.
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