Tag: Paraguay

World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-1 Spain

What a world. Regardlesss of the lie of the fixtures, if anyone had said two days ago that Paraguay and Uruguay would be the last South American representatives in the 2010 World Cup, they would have been dismissed as cranks. But here we are. We have had three marvellous quarter-finals so far (for an almost baffling variety of different reasons) and here we are, all set for the final match between Paraguay and Spain. The Paraguayan flame has burnt intermittently in South Africa so far. Their penalty shootout win in the last round against Japan came at the end of possibly the worst match of the tournament so far, but they demonstrated their capability in winning their group as Italy imploded. Spain, meanwhile, have also been a mixed bag. They play in a style so relaxed that it could almost be described as “louche”, stroking the ball around as if they are playing a jazz solo on a bass guitar, but this has costs as well as benefits. Two of their three wins have been some degree short of outstanding, and their opening game defeat at the hands of Switzerland seemed to demonstrate cracks in the invincible aura that they had built up around themselves. Fernando Torres seems out of sorts. Paraguay have nothing to lose. A match that may have filled the Paraguayans with trepidation a couple of...

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At Last, The Penalty Shoot-Out Arrives

Although so many of the normal constituents of a World Cup finals – complaints about the ball, Sepp Blatter contradicting himself in public, Cristiano Ronaldo’s pained expression & enormous Adam’s apple combo, England getting dumped on their backsides – have been present and correct, it had begun to feel as if something was missing from the 2010 World Cup finals.  The penalty shoot-out. In fact, until this afternoon only one second round match had even gone to extra-time from the six already played. Over the last few days, it has at times felt as if this stage of the competition, a straight ninety minutes with no need to worry about permutations and what might be happening elsewhere seems to have suit the strongest teams, and the wins for Germany, Argentina and Brazil had the air of a stroll in the park about them. This afternoon, however, two well-matched teams played each other and we finally got a battle to the very end. Paraguay and Japan didn’t set the world alight with the one hundred and twenty minutes of normal football that they played, but they did at least manage to bring the world some tension with the penalty shoot-out that followed. There are good penalty shoot-outs and relatively dull shoot-outs, but there is no doubting that they are all moments of stomach-clenching apprehension. Even if you are watching the...

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World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-0 Japan (Paraguay win 5-3 on penalties)

They say that consistency helps in football. Especially in terms of number of players you use. This seems to be one of Japan’s tactics, as they enter this game with the same XI that began each of the group games with. Paraguay give first starts to Edgar Benitez and Nestor Ortigioza, as they become the sixteenth and seventeenth players to start for the South Americans (with two others having played as substitutes). Ortigoza makes his World Cup debut, leaving Dario Veron and Rodolfo Gamarra as the only two outfield Paraguayans to see any action. This is an ideal game to see if consistency is a better plan than rotation, as history sees these two sides equally matched. The World Rankings see Paraguay fourteen places ahead of Japan, but the South American teams get a slight advantage in the World Rankings due to the number of World Cup Qualifying games that they play – Japan may play more friendlies, but these as less valuable than competitive games (especially World Cup games) as far as FIFA’s rankings. A more reliable barometer is the head to head games between the two. The two nations didn’t meet until 1995, when Paraguay won in Tokyo. However since, then it’s Played 5 Japan won 1, Paraguay won 1, Drawn 3. These teams are nicely matched. In fact, maybe they’re too matched, as they cancel each...

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World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand

If you’d told New Zealand beforehand that they’d go through the group unbeaten and finish above Italy, I daresay they’d have settled for that. And they’d be right to feel pretty pleased with themselves, but they’ll be frustrated that it wasn’t enough to get them through, and they go home as just the sixth team in World Cup history to be eliminated despite not losing a game. (Trivia time: how many of the other five can you name? Answers below.)

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World Cup 2010: Slovakia 0-2 Paraguay

So, it’s Sunday lunchtime and time for the stout yeomen of Slovakia and Paraguay to enter into battle in The Group (so far) Of Parity. Slovakia need a win more desperately than Paraguay today, having been held by New Zealand in their opening match. They will, of course, finish their group matches against Italy. Paraguay, by contrast, will take on New Zealand in their final match and may well consider that a draw today will be enough to leave them in pole position to qualify for a place in the last sixteen. Curiously, though, Paraguay have chosen to play three forwards this afternoon. Are they going to go for it anyway? It would certainly seem that way. It may be that they already have one eye on the next round of the competition. Winning today could well prove to be the difference between playing the Netherlands and playing Japan or Denmark in the next round. A draw would do them today, but a win would be even better. If Paraguay are going to “go for it” today, the same probably can’t be said of the South African match-going public. There are a lot of empty seats in Bloemfontain today. This is no bad thing, really. Empty seats were a feature of World Cups until the Americans sold the 1994 tournament out, and those using this as a stick to...

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